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!

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.

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!

10 most expensive ingredients in the world – #8 – Moose Milk Cheese

Say cheese!

So what’s our eighth expensive ingredient after Kopi Luwak, Matsutake Mushroom, Yubari Melon, Caviar, Truffles, Coffin Bay King Oysters and Hop Shoots? It is Moose Milk Cheese. Brought to you from Bjursholm, in north Sweden, and not any other major cheese producing nations like France! This Swedish cheese is at the high end of high-end. Why? Because it can only be made from the milk of three moose cows named Gullan, Haelga, and Juna. These three cows happily reside at the “Moose House” which is a 59 acre farm and is a part of The Elk House (Älgens Hus) farm in Bjurholm run by Christer and Ulla Johansson. Something as exciting as this can definitely attract visitors too – about 25,000 a year is what the Moose House does!

Talking about the price – the Moose Milk Cheese is outrageously priced at $455 per pound! Would you really want to spend this much on some cheese? Well, we leave that totally on you!

#8 – Moose Milk Cheese

Also known as one of the rarest kinds of cheese, the Moose Milk Cheese’s priciness is a result of many other attributes. It is strenuous, when to milk a single one, it takes somewhere between 30 minutes to 2 hours and each cow would only produce one gallon of milk in one day. Like this wasn’t enough, when the only time that is suitable for milking this trio is between May-September, when they are in heat and are calving. And that’s not all – the milk (containing 12% each of fats and proteins), then undergoes refrigeration and is curdled three times in a year. All this to annually produce 660 pounds of cheese!

And not to forget, the availability ain’t that easy as well. After the Moose House makes these three cheeses, they either reach the posh kitchens of upscale Swedish restaurants/hotels or are available for sampling or buying from the farm’s tasting room! So, now you know where to head for if you want to savour this expensive cheese.

With a sublime flavour, unlike cow’s milk cheese, the Moose Milk Cheese is tasty and healthy. It contains a high quantity of solids and butterfat alongwith good levels of zinc, selenium, aluminium and iron. Probably the reason why nutritionists highly recommend it and the patients of Ivan Susanin Sanitorium in Russia are served. Justifies the price as well!

So, wherever you are on this planet, if you get your hands on some of this exotic cheese or a dish that uses this cheese – do not miss the chance to try it! The entire experience will definitely be priceless!

As we move towards the final two ingredients on this list, let the ‘foodie’ in you share the thrilling stories and recipes that you end-up dishing or eating! We absolutely love receiving them and then reading and trying them in our kitchens!

10 most expensive ingredients in the world – #7 – Hop Shoots

10 most expensive ingredients in the world

So, after Kopi Luwak, Matsutake Mushroom, Yubari Melon, Caviar, Truffles and Coffin Bay King Oysters, we present a vegetable that definitely needs a mention. We are talking of the Hop Shoots that look a lot like asparagus and is available for €1,000 a kilo! We really can’t call that cheap, can we?

Why does it cost a bomb? Hop Shoots are rare, growing only in spring and don’t cultivate in an even row. So, you have to break your back hunching over each shoot while hunting for these. Besides this, these shoots are so tiny that one needs to pick about hundreds to fill a bag! Too much work for just some shoots!

#7 – Hop Shoots

A seasonal delicacy, Hop Shoots have some interesting trivia attached to them! When they begin to grow they are a deep purple in colour that changes into a perky green as soon as they morph into swirling tendrils or ‘tips.’ A flower known as a ‘burr’ is also produced by the feminine hops, and it is eventually these from which the ‘cones’ grow, that are harvested.

There’s a common practice that’s followed when growing these greens – you need to trim-off the first growth and wait for the second to come. This is done as the early ones grow very fast, and thus tend to be fragile and hollow. These, in turn, can prove to be less useful as well.

Enough said about the looks, its time for the main thing now – the taste. Epicureans around the world say that the taste of hop shoots ranges from mouth-drying, fibrous and astringent to a slight sweet, which is very asparagusish!

Nonetheless, they are quite tasty and come across with flavours that are subtle yet earthy! So much so that the Italians have a popular traditional dish of theirs dedicated to these expensive shoots – the ‘Risotto di Bruscandoli’ or simply the hop shoots risotto! Other ways to dish-up these greens are by simply sautéing or steaming them in butter with garlic and chives or you can use these to flavour your soups or make pretty garnishes or serve them with Worcestershire sauce glazed grilled chicken and mashed potatoes. Divine!

Not to forget the health benefits – rich in iron and antioxidants, and are known to help fight cancer as well as ease menopause conditions. Looks definitely can be deceiving!

Make sure you don’t miss the chance to consume it whenever you get one!

As we move on to bring to you the next expensive ingredient to feature on this list, you can share your exciting recipes and foodie stories with us. We absolutely love receiving them, read about them and try them in our kitchen. Also, don’t forget to share, as sharing is caring!

10 most expensive ingredients in the world

We already covered five out of the 10 most expensive ingredients in our bucket list – Kopi Luwak, Matsutake Mushroom, Yubari Melon, Caviar and Truffles. This time it’s something from the sea/ocean. The Coffin Bay King oyster, from Australia’s Coffin Bay, one of the most expensive seafood in the world. It is said that the best way to savour oysters is to eat them raw. Probably the reason why it hasn’t really caught on in India!

Coffin Bay King oysters sell for $100 per piece and are only found/farmed in Australia’s nutrient-rich Coffin Bay. Ready to spend this much on an oyster? Meanwhile, chew on some health facts about oysters. It is rich in Omega 3, vitamins and minerals, has less than 0.03% cholesterol and is 99% fat free!

#6 – Coffin Bay King Oysters

Often referred to as the ‘grandfather’ of all oysters, the Coffin Bay King Oyster is pricey due to its huge size – 18 centimetre long and can sometimes weigh upto 1 kilogram! Imagine shucking up such a hulk oyster! Did you know these King Oysters take about 6-7 years to grow up to this size and no one ever has been able to swallow one whole at once! For obvious reasons.

But the giant size doesn’t affect the experience that comes with its taste – with a robust aroma and a texture that doesn’t suit the looks – tender yet firm, your palette will be exposed to a range of intricate flavours with a crisp salty aftertaste. Also, these oysters are special as they have 10 times more meat than the regular normal ones. Wow factor for sure!

And how do you serve these king oysters? Raw with a slice of lemon or lime. Thus, keeping the flavours and feel of the ocean intact.

The next time you come across one of these, don’t think twice and do indulge in it for these are definitely worth a try! Plus, you will get some bragging privileges over your friends and families!

This was all about the famous Coffin Bay King Oysters. Watch this space for the next expensive ingredient. Meanwhile, share your oyster and other food tales. Also, don’t forget to share and spread the knowledge!

Onam in God’s own country

Many years ago I found myself in Kerala during Onam. Did you know that it is a 10 day festival? The atmosphere in Kerala during Onam is simply so festive! It is like Diwali here. Almost every brand has a discount offer, shops are aglitter and everybody is on a buying spree.

Rasakalan

I spent Onam with a Malayali family to get a real taste of the festival. Onam is celebrated to re-welcome a much loved king to Kerala. Legend goes that Mahabali was a fine king who ruled over Kerala many centuries ago. During his rule, abundance and prosperity was the norm. Everybody was happy, so much so that they forgot the gods! This angered the gods and Vishnu came down to correct things. To cut a long story short, Vishnu managed to banish the king to the underworld(patal lok), but granted his wish, that once a year he could come to visit his people for 10 days and that day, things in the land would be as he left them. Hence there is an ambience of happiness and festivities for these 10 days.

Mathanga_Erisery

There are three highlights of Onam, which is most fascinating. Onam boat races, which appealed to the sport lover in me. I was lucky to be at the Ramada Alleppy during a Masterchef shoot. The property faces the Punnamada backwaters, this is where the boat race is held. The pookalam or the highly creative and beautiful floral rangoli outside every doorstep that appealed to the creative person in me and the elaborate sadya on the plantain leaves which appealed to the food lover me!

Aviyal

The novelty and joy of eating piping hot food and so many items on the leaf is unsurpassed. The items range from curries to dry vegetables preparations to pickles to chips and papad to the lip smacking payassams. Truly a feast fit for a king! There is a sequence for the food served. First comes the pinch of salt, the chips, the banana, the tamarind and ginger chutney (puli inji), the pickle (usually lime or mango) and the sabzi, usually French beans with carrot with a garnish of fresh coconut, pachadi (raita) and huge papaddums. This is followed by sumptuous curries like the olan – a mild curry with a coconut milk base and with vegetables like white pumpkin and brown eyed beans, sambhar – the universal favourite, kaalan – a sour, coconut curry with yam and raw plantains amongst other vegetables, errasseri – a roasted coconut based curry, aviyal – a mixed vegetable curry and of course piping hot and spicy rasam. The meal started with a spoon of ghee on hot rice along with a small helping of plain, unsalted dal. By the time I finished this sumptuous meal my shirt buttons were popping, still I didn’t let go off the palpayassam, thick, creamy, milky with fried nuts! Heaven in God’s own country!

Pal_payasam

I have another Onam trip to Kerala on my agenda and hope it materializes soon! Meanwhile, if you have Malayali friends try and snag an invitation to a Onam sadya, soon!