Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Strawberry Lassi: Yogurt Smoothie: And A Healthy Menu Idea

If a guest visiting you is a weight watcher, one who is too strict about calories and diet, what recipes you choose? I was in the same dilemma a week before, I had to make a complete meal for someone who prefers only healthy meals. I put in lot of thoughts and took a quick look at my blog’s recipes. Below is what I decided for the menu.

I know, you will say that lassi is not a dessert. Well, people in the UK love to have lassi as desserts. There are two reasons for that, one-yogurt is very rich in calcium and ascorbic acid which helps in digestion and so it being the last meal is good for your body. Second- lassi is sweet, so it suffices as dessert very well.

So what is lassi? In simple words it is a smoothie made with yogurt/curd (dahi) as a base, to it you can add in any fruit like mango, berries. Authentic lassi of Punjab isn't that simple and fat free, it is loaded with sugar and malai. Only after coming to the UK I tried  mango lassi for the first time, in India we get plain lassi-sweet or salty but never the ones with the fruits. 

Strawberry lassi is fruity berry twist to regular lassi and the baby pink colour is to die for. Strawberry is sweet and juicy, where as yogurt is tangy and therefore these two ingredients when mixed together balances each other very well.

Lassi isn't good if its not chilled, I mean its a summer drink- it has to be cold, refreshing and revitalizing. I did not add extra sugar, so its even healthier. It is filling too, you can give it your kids as an evening snack, or have it as post-workout or gym snack. No matter what you will enjoy this lassi. Below is how to make Strawberry Lassi.

Approximately 20 strawberries
3/4 cup yogurt/dahi
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder/elyachi

Wash strawberries and remove the stem/stalk. Keep it on the strainer and drain the excess water.
Mix yogurt and milk in the blender and blend till you see bubbles.
Add in strawberries and cardamom powder. Blend again till you see no big chunks of strawberries.
Pour in glasses and chill before you serve.

If you like sweet lassi, feel free to add 1-2 tablespoons sugar.
I used more yogurt and less milk, but this ratio is completely depends on your choice. If you prefer creamy lassi, add more yogurt. For thinner lassi, add more milk. I used full fat yogurt and milk but feel free to use anything you want.
Chill it in the fridge for atleast 2-4 hours before you serve.

Serving suggestions:
It is a great pre or post workout drink. It is healthy and filling.
If you are late for work, then have this as a breakfast.
It is a great idea to serve it as side with any meals.
Pour into fancy wine glasses and serve in your parties or get-together.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Mint (Pudhina): Benefits: How To Include It In Your Diet: Tips For Weight Loss: And Recipes Ideas

Mint, I guess is one of the most underestimated green. You will hear how good it is to eat spinach or kale or coriander leaves but you hardly hear same about the mint. Mint as we call pudhina or podhina in hindi is infact the healthiest green ever, also one of the cheapest.

Mint belongs to the herb called as mentha which is known for its aromatic quality. So other than just using it as mouth freshener, there are many benefits of mint:
  •  The menthol present in mint helps the enzymes necessary for digestion. They relax the smooth muscles of the stomach, reducing the chances of indigestion.
  • When mint extract is used on an area that is hurting, it immediately provides a cooling effect, causing the area to partially become numb. This helps in lessening the pain. So now you know why balms have mint in it.
  • Since pudina has a very strong aroma, it gets to stimulate your brain functioning and helps cure nausea.
  • Mint juice is an excellent skin cleanser. It soothes skin, and helps to cure infections and itchiness, as well as being a good way to reduce pimples, and it can even relieve some of the symptoms of acne.
  • Adding mint to your diet, you are increasing the amount of fat that is being consumed and put to use, rather than being stored and contributing to your weight gain.
  • Mint if rubbed directly on the teeth and gums will refresh the mouth and eliminate dangerous forms of growth. That’s why even toothpaste producers use mint extract.
  • Mint leaves are packed with nutrients such as calcium, phosphorous, vitamin C, D, E and small amounts of vitamin B complex. All these compounds put together improves the body’s immune system, keeping it safe from infections and inflammation. 

How to consume more mint leaves:
  • Mix in your dinks. Add mint leaves in water, juices or smoothies. I like to add mint leaves in green tea as well.
  • Add in chutneys or throw some in salads.
  • Use chopped or pureed mint leaves in parathas. I often use dry mint powder in parathas for extra flavour.
  • If you really love mint flavour why not garnish your side dishes (subji) with chopped mint leaves. 
Tip for weight loss:
In a jug add 1 liter water, to it add 4-5 mint leaves. Leave this water overnight. Nex day drink this water throughout the day. This mint infused water act as a flat trimmer and also improve the digestion.

My recipes with mint:

Monday, April 27, 2015

Pomegranate and Yogurt Dip: Anaar Ka Raita: Healthy Summer Recipe

Happy Monday everyone. Looks like I am hooked on pomegranate these days. I don’t why but I cant get over this beautiful fruit. Every time I see it, I get a lesson- create a life that is good on the inside, and not just the one that looks good on the outside. Outside it is rugged and tough, inside it is beautiful where every seed looks like pearl-fresh, sweet and alive.  Other then this important lesson, pomegranates are also high in nutrients that give you glowing skin and healthy digestion. I know peeling it can be difficult and time consuming but that should not stop you from buying pomegranates. Need some motivation and proof, then see this post  on what is the benefits of pomegranates and why should one eat it more?

I am still in the weekend mood so feeling a bit lazy to type more, so let me quickly get to the recipe- Pomegranate and Yogurt Dip. This is in one word the best summer dip ever-its quick, light on tummy and super healthy. This dip is like spring in the bowl-so bright and beautiful-sigh!.  Creamy thick yogurt is mixed with juicy fresh pomegranate, in it goes hint of mint and some tangy spice mix (chaat massala) and there you have one amazing, super easy dip ready.

In India this is simply called as Anaar Ka Raita, which is paired with rice dishes such as  methi mutter pulavbasic biryani, corn rice or mixed capsicum rice.. In my home, this is preferred more like an evening nibble snack served with biscuits, nachos, crackers or chips. Sometimes we just head to the nearest park with a good book, a bottle of wine, this dip and some biscuits. 

1 cup yogurt/dahi
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds/anaar
1 teaspoon chaat massala (recipe here)
2 leaf of fresh mint/pudhina

Mix yogurt and chaat massala properly.
In it, add pomegranate seeds and mint leaves. Mix.
Serve in a bowl.

I used low fat yogurt, but feel free to you use any.
Chaat massala is available in any Indian grocery store. Or you can buy MDH Chunky Chat Masala .
If you like spicy dips, feel free to add black pepper powder or chopped green chillies.

Serving suggestions:
This is a dip, so goes well with nachos, crackers, chips or biscuits.
I like to sometimes have it as a side with mixed vegetable paratha, bombay tava pulav or baked potato wedges.
To complete the meal you can use this with salad and vegetable kebabs in pita pockets.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Cafe Frappe, CCD Style Cold Coffee

India is a tea loving country. Every nook and corner, no matter- town or city there will be a tea vendor selling piping hot cups of tea. There was a time when cafes or coffee culture was not so ‘in’ in India. If you needed to drink something cold to beat the summer heat you would either have cold drink or fresh juice in the market. Later came into picture a cafe called as Cafe Coffee Day or CCD as we called it. It became the place where all youngsters would go- it was cheap, had beautiful red and white sitting arrangement and most important they served cold coffees.

[More coffee recipes- Eggless coffee cake with fresh cream , Coffee whiskey cake with white chocolate glaze,  eggless orange coffee marble cake ]

CCD would never ask you to leave the place when you were done paying the bill. They came with the punch line- ‘come, share conversations’ and I loved it for that. No matter what, you could be there for hours just talking to friends, reading the book, listening to music or have some me-time. In fact I met my husband there for the first time, we sat there discussing about our lives, families and marital things. Oh, gosh 5 years and I can still smile and blush thinking of those conversations. ;-)

So, there we were sipping coffee and talking some serious things. I had Cafe Frappe. Frappe in simple words mean chilled or cold. Cafe Frappe is a cold coffee, combination of chocolate and coffee. Its bitter, its cold and its creamy. If you are a coffee lover, you must and must give this Indian style CCD cold coffee a try this summer. Nothing fancy, just throw everything in the blender and mix. By the way, if you seriously love coffee (like me) then you must hop on this amazing visual article on Brewing Success: Coffee Break-it is a great read.

Till then, serve this cold coffee with ice-cream in tall glass with some coffee sprinkled on top for more flavour. Do your favourite thing- watch a movie, read a book, paint, relax in the balcony but take out some time and enjoy this chilled glass of coffee-I bet you won’t regret.

5 tablespoon instant coffee
1 cup water
2 cups milk
2 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 scoop vanilla ice-cream
5 ice cubes
1 teaspoon coffee powder

Heat 1 cup of water. Mix in instant coffee. Mix till coffee is dissolved.
In the blender, coffee water mixture, milk, coco powder, ice cream and ice cubes. Blend till you see bubbles.
Pour this in two tall glasses. Sprinkle coffee powder on top and serve.

For the authentic taste, please use full fat milk and ice cream.
You can increase the amount of icecream for more sweet and creamy coffee.
This coffee is bit on bitter side, but if you like sweet, then add more sugar.
Makes 2 tall glasses of coffee.

Serving suggestions:
Serve with chocolate chips, chopped nuts or fruits.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Palak Ka Thepla: Spinach Flat Indian Bread

Happy Earth's Day everyone. Remember, earth doesn't belong to us, we belong to earth.

What is the difference between a  thepla and a paratha, someone asked me. I know, they both are flat Indian bread and have many similarities but they are indeed different from each other. So, I decided to make a table (like how we did in school) jotting the differences in between them.

Is not always made with whole wheat flour. Paratha can be made with besan (chickpea flour) or even maida (all purpose flour)
Theplas is always made using whole wheat flour.
Parathas can be plain.
Theplas has to be made with some vegetable, else its not a thepla.
Parathas can be made in different shapes-triangle, round, square and even spiral (lacha).
Theplas is always round in shape. Never seen any other shape.
Parathas are also stuffed.
There is no stuffed thepla ever.
In parathas you can add chopped veggies and even vegetable puree in the dough.
Theplas will always have chopped veggies or grated vegetables. Never pureed.
You need water to form the dough of parathas.
You need yogurt (dahi) and water to knead theplas dough.
You may or may not add oil while kneading the dough.
It is a must to add oil in theplas dough.

So, today’s recipe is Palak Ka thepla and not parathas because there is oil and yogurt in the dough. If you omit these two above ingredients you can say these are spinach parathas. There is a fine line you see :-) So next time when you adding yogurt, oil and chopped or grated vegetables in the whole wheat flour dough ,then you are making theplas. I have prepared palak paneer parathas as well; in that I used pureed spinach in the dough which was stuffed with paneer (cottage cheese), I did not use yogurt or oil in the dough. Well that’s too much info, I guess.

Palak Thepla is my everyday thing. It is the easiest way to use greens in your diet. I just break roughly the baby spinach and throw them in the dough. If you are among those who love theplas but doesn't like methi's (fenugreek leaves)  bitter taste then these theplas are a good alternative for you. The green leaves give the same vibrant colour but the taste is not at all bitter.

The theplas have loads of flavours and spices added to it so they are good even if eaten plain. Else serve with any simple everyday dry side dish such as gajar methi mutter, marwadi aloo pyaz, punjabi gobi mutter or bhindi do pyaza. Another way is to have them with yogurt (dahi) or pickle or chutney or jam.

2 cup whole wheat flour/atta
1 cup chopped spinach/palak
1 teaspoon cumin seeds/jeera
1 teaspoon coriander powder/dhaniya
½ teaspoon turmeric/haldi
1 teaspoon red chili powder/lal mirch
1 teaspoon green chilli-ginger paste/hari mirch-adrak
2 tablespoon oil
2 tablespoon curd/yogurt
Salt as required
Oil for frying

Wash and chop spinach levees properly and strain the water.
Mix all the ingredients except yogurt and start kneading.
Mix yogurt and form a soft dough. Add water if required.
Keep the dough aside for 15-20 minutes covered with a kitchen towel. Then pinch out 15 balls from them.
Place a ball of dough on a flat surface. Using a rolling pin, roll it out like you would do for chapatti. Sprinkle flour on the thepla as when needed so it doesn't stick.
Heat a heavy skillet, griddle or tava. Place the rolled out thepla on it. Cook till brown spots appear on one side. Turn the thepla over, pour 1/4 teaspoon oil around it and let it cook till golden on both sides.
Repeat for all the dough.

You can omit the use oil, simply use a napkin to roast the thepla.
They are very good while travelling- just use more oil to fry them.

Serving Ideas:
Serve hot with chutneyraita or pickle of your choice.
Goes well with any side dish or curry.
These are perfect to be served at breakfast, brunch and as evening or picnic snack.
It is also great for travelling or tiffin boxes.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Pomegranate (Anaar): Benefits And Healthy Way Of Eating It.

Pomegranate is the most beautiful fruit ever. Every time I see it, I get a lesson- create a life that is good on the inside, and not just the one that looks good on the outside. Outside it is rugged and tough, inside it is beautiful where every seed looks like pearl-fresh, sweet and alive.  Other then this important lesson, pomegranates are also high in nutrients that give you glowing skin and healthy digestion. I know peeling it can be difficult and time consuming but that should not stop you from buying pomegranates. Need some motivation and proof, then see-

Benefits of pomegranates:
  • Prevents heart disease-Antioxidants prevent free radical damage of the walls of arteries, thus preventing heart disease. 
  • Healthy digestion: Eating a pomegranate every day is a good way to add fibre to your daily diet. One pomegranate can fulfill about 45% of your daily recommended intake of fibre.
  • Glowing skin: Polyphenolic compounds in pomegranates are powerful antioxidants that can delay the process of ageing. Therefore, eating pomegranate keeps your skin glowing and radiant for a long time.
  • Dental health: Pomegranate juice can fight off dental plaque thus keeping your teeth and gums healthy.

How to include it your diet:
  • Chutneys: The taste of pomegranate is tangy and sweet so go ahead and mix in chutneys.
  • Yogurt: - Simple, add in yogurt with some chaat massala. Enjoy this healthy dip.
  • Rice: - I sometimes just throw some pomegranate seeds in rice or pulav dishes.
  • Juice: If nothing above impresses you, have the juice-simple. You can include the juice and make this summer cooler drink.

Hope you will now include more and more pomegranates in your diet.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Aanar Ka Sharbat (Pomegranate Juice) With Coke And Chaat Massala: Indian Summer Cooler

You know how sometimes you just play with the ingredients with no specific plan in the mind, I do this a lot. Especially with the drinks, we both are huge sucker for drinks both with and without alcohol. A good sunny evening is often spent with a drink and a book.  Some summer drinks such as chaas (spiced buttermilk) and aam ras (mango smoothie) is often enjoyed with lunch but the drinks like rose iced tea, mint cucumber cooler and roasted orange lemonade are best for the evenings.

Pomegranates or anaar as we call it in hindi is the most beautiful fruit ever. I know peeling it can be difficult and time consuming but that should not stop you from buying pomegranates. Need some motivation and proof? Then, see this post on what is the benefits of pomegranates and why should one eat it more? With that in mind I used fresh pomegranate juice and created this new summer cooler recipe.

Pomegranate juice+ coke + chaat massala = best summer cooler ever. Anaar ka juice is mixed with coca-cola and dash of chaat massala (tangy Indian spice blend) and there you have the Indian inspired mocktail ready. Yes this is that easy, just three ingredients. I used fresh pomegranate juice, but feel free to use tropicana, rubicon or any canned juice. Let’s see this ridiculously easy Indian inspired summer drink recipe- Aanar Ka Sharbat (Pomegranate Juice) With Coke And Chaat Massala.

1 glass pomegranate juice/ anaar ka juice
1 glass coke/cocacola
1 teaspoon chaat massala (recipe here)
Few ice cubes

Mix chaat massala in pomegranate juice.
Pour the above mixture in two tall glasses in equal quantities.
Fill the glasses with the coke.
Serve chilled with ice cubes.

The recipe makes 2 tall glasses of drink.
If you are using canned juice then you might need to add lemon juice as well.
You can also use thumbs up or pepsi instead of coke.
Chaat massala is easily available in the Indian grocery store, else you can buy from here.

Serving suggestions:
This is a great summer drink recipe, serve in parties or get together. 

Saturday Snapshots-food photography series hosted at Merry Tummy 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Simple Kadhi (Yogurt Soup): Kadhi Chawal: Kadhi For Khichadi

Comfort food- what’s yours? If you have ever noticed comfort food are generally the ones that are easy to cook but are loaded with calories. See Americans love their Mac and cheese- easy but calories laded. Simple tadka daal and white rice is the comfort food for most of the Indians, simple to cook but remember the starch and the ghee. But hey, when we are talking about comfort let’s not count calories- good food= good life.

One of my favourite comfort food is kadhi (yogurt soup). Kadi or kadhi is made using gram flour (besan) and yogurt (dahi/curd). Kadhi takes on different flavours as it travels from state to state throughout the India. In Gujarat the kadhi is sweet and white in colour (no use of turmeric); you need to add pakodas (fried dumplings of chickpea flour) in the Punjabi kadhi; marwadi kadhi is thick super spicy with tadka(tempering) of dry red chillies.

This is Simple Kadhi that you can make every day. One of the best thing about kadhi is that it needs no vegetable- just plain simple Indian spices and you are good to go. You can have kadhi plain like a soup but the deadliest combination is to have it with kichadi. But we prefer and enjoy it with rice dishes such as methi mutter pulav, basic biryani, corn rice or mixed capsicum riceWe like to use leftover rice  with some veggies and make pulav with it (Namkeen Chawal). 

(for kadhi)
2 tablespoon gram flour/besan
1 cup full fat yogurt /khatta dahi
2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder/haldi powder
salt as per taste
(for tempering)
1 teaspoon mustard seeds/rai
1 teaspoon asefotida/hing
5-6 curry leaves/kadhi pata
2 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon blackpepper powder/kali mirch
1 small to medium bay leaf/tej patta
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder/lal mirch powder.

Mix gram flour, water, yogurt, salt and turmeric properly. Make sure there are no lumps. If needed sieve the mixture.
Put this mixture on kadai/wok and cook on high flame. Keep stirring till the kadhi starts to boil. Turn the slow to low and cook till kadhi is thick.
Prepare the tempering. Heat oil in a pan. When oil gets hot, add mustard seeds. Let it crackle.
Add aseofetida, curry leaves and bay leaf.
Finally mix in red chilli powder and black pepper. Turn off the heat.
Put this hot tempering (tadka) on the kadhi. Mix and serve.

Make sure that you keep stirring the kadhi till it comes to boil, else the kadhi will curdle.
You can also add garlic and ginger in the tempering.

Serving suggestion:
Goes well with all rice dishes. Methi mutter pulav, pulav or capsicum rice.
Have it as it is like a soup on a rainy or wintery day.
Serve as a main dish with parathas .

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Saturday Snapshots Series #9 Drinks

Ladies, bring it on drinks this time for Saturday Snapshots. Summers is here and let’s click drinks.

  • Shoot drinks, it can be action shots like pouring or have human element like holding a glass. Or plain simple drink. Be creative.
  • The post has to be once a week for 4 weeks that is the whole month starting from 20th April to 20th May.
  • The post can be with or without recipe-choice is yours.
  • If you don’t have time think of simple everyday drinks like water, juice or tea. If you want you can edit the previous post by simply modifying it with the new picture.
  • To click a good picture make sure that the glass you are using is clean-the water marks or finger prints will make your picture look sad.
  • Light is very important. Take the picture in good sunlight. For tutorial see this-how to understand and play with light by Playful Cooking.
  • Props: Beginners try to keep it simple white. Else be bold and use bright colours -the best is to co-ordinate and use contrasting colours. 
  • This is the time to use all flowery and colorful fabrics you have. The boost of colours will give summer feel to the pictures.
  • Simple garnish such as mint leaves, lemon or orange slices will bring out the life in your pictures-do try that. 
  • Pinterest borad is here for ideas and inspirations.

Some of you asked for basic tutorials,so here are some links.

  • Please link back to the hosts (we want more people to join in). Simply copy and paste- Saturday Snapshots-food photography series hosted at Merry Tummy and Siris Food.
  • Once your post is ready, use the below linky tool at the host’s page and link.
  •  It is important to watermark (write your name/blog name/blog logo) on your pictures. 
  • Use the logo, it helps to spread the word.
  • Logo
  • We are active on twitter and Facebook. You can share your pictures and post link at our Facebook group. For twitter use #ss (hash tag ss)

If you wish to join and know more about Saturday Snapshots, click here.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Hari Chutney: Green Chutney: Coriander Chutney: Indian Chuteny For Chaats

Every morning is beautiful these days, looks like sun is really happy shining bright and crisp. No, I still don’t believe that spring is here, I am pretty sure that this unpredictable English weather will show its real colours soon ;-). Till then, I am going to enjoy some summer coolers and quick snacks. If you are an Indian, you will understand and know that all the snacks are accompanied with chutney. We just can’t have snacks without chutney-it’s like a necessity. Serve daal pakodas (lentil fritters) to us without chutney and you will see only frowns. So be it Bombay sandwich, aloo tikki or dhokla we need chutney.

Green chutney also known as Hari Chutney or Coriander Chutney (dhaniya ki chutney) is the most preferred and is used for street foods like ragda patties or pani puri. I have posted three green chutneys before, one with raw mango (kacha aam/kairi); one with mint (pudhina) and lastly one with the Indian gooseberries (amla). Today’s chutney is the most common version- made with coriander leaves, green chillies and some spices. Every street vendor in India makes it this way.

This chutney is ridiculously easy and straight forward, just put everything together and grind into smooth paste. You can adjust it as per your taste- add more chillies if you like it spicy, or more lemon juice if you like tangy chutneys. You can pair it with almost anything-pulav, tikkis, parathas, kichadi, dosa but the most preferred way is to use it on chaats, bhel puri or sev puri.

For us, it is one simple and healthy green chutney dip. A great nibble snack for summer time. Use as a dip with roasted bread, savoury biscuits, chips or cheese crackers (like here). Do give this indian style green chutney a try.

1 bunch of coriander leaves (2 cups)
1 green chilli
1 teaspoon asafoetida/hing
2 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt to taste
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds/jeera

Wash and chop coriander leaves properly.
Add everything together in the grinder and grind into smooth paste. Add water if needed.

This is coriander (dhaniya) chutney recipe, so I did not add mint. If you want you can.
You can also use ginger and garlic in this chutney.
This keeps well in the fridge for 3 days. To see how to freeze chutney, see my tip here.

Serving suggestions:
Use in wraps or in pitta pockets with salad.
Serve as dip with crackers, chips or nachos.
Great side for idli, dosa, chilla or Indian flat bread.
Serve with any snack, especially Indian snacks.