Apr 25, 2015

Orange Basil Iced Tea

With summer on, in full swing, we search often for different drinks to soothe our parched throat! It is truly important to keep ourselves well hydrated in heat. Drinking plain water through the day can be boring, and nauseous at times. The trick, then, is to flavour our drinks with some palate pleasers. This way, we can drink enough fluids to keep the body hydrated well enough.

For more on hydration, and it’s importance, read my article here on importance of water.

Here is an idea which you can use to add fun to your fluid intake. Tea is a diuretic, which means it increases water excreted from the body. So to help maintain the fluid balance in the body, I have diluted the iced tea with plenty of water and added orange juice for extra vitamins and minerals.

  • People who have special fluid restrictions like in kidney aliments will have to stick to their prescribed form of fluid intake. This drink may not be suitable for them.
  • If you have diabetes, or are obese, this is not the best way to replenish fluids for you. Cheer up! I will be back with interesting drink recipes for you also.

Enjoy chilled Iced Tea

ALLERGY INFORMATION

  • Does not contain gluten, soya, corn, yeast, lactose.

Preparation Time – 10 minutes + 1 hour chilling, Cooking Time – 3-4 minutes, Serves – 4-6 glasses

YOU NEED

COOKWARE – Tea pot/saucepan, jug, glasses to serve

INGREDIENTS

  1. Juice of 2 oranges, about 1/2 cup or more, freshly squeezed orange juice.
  2. 3 tea bags of your choice of flavour. Lemon, ginger, mint teas all work well.
  3. 2 cups drinking water + 4 cups chilled drinking water
  4. A tiny fistful Basil seeds/sabja seeds
  5. 2 tbsp honey
  6. Ice cubes and orange slices to serve

METHOD

  1. Bring 2 cups of water to boil in a saucepan. Place tea bags in the saucepan, remove from heat, cover and steep for 5-7 minutes.
  2. Soak the basil seeds in the remaining 4 cups chilled water.
  3. Squeeze out the tea bags. Mix in the orange juice, strained tea, chilled water and honey.
  4. Stir well, chill for an hour.
  5. Serve topped with ice cubes and slices of orange to garnish.

Orange Basil Iced Tea

Apr 22, 2015

U4IA – Review of Food Menu

Interestingly named, U4IA (Euphoria) has been conceived as a fun destination spot for all. It is built over four levels, with each floor offering different entertainment options. The ground floor has a screen for match days. The first floor houses the pub, the brewery vats, and seating. Wooden flooring adds to the charm. The second floor, I hear, is intended for banqueting/discotheque. The rooftop has a barbeque lounge space.

I was invited along with a few other bloggers to review their new food menu. A lounge or a microbrewery will surely have great choice of drinks on the menu. But to find a peppy menu, with diligent attention to the food as well, is surely reason to smile! We found just that. There were several bold fusion creations.

 Onion rings and Mozzarella sticks  Mushrooms with Schezwan peppers

Paneer Peshawari Baby corn Chili

Chef Vinod Laxman set the evening rolling with some great starters and finger food. Beer battered onion rings,  oozy mozzarella sticks, mushroom with Szechwan peppers, baby corn chilli, Paneer Peshawari were some of the starters we sampled that evening. Crunchy onion rings with the beer making its presence felt in a desirable acidic way – good to go with the brews they serve up. The baby corn packed a good punch and the Paneer fragrant with the marinade and grilled well. It was tough for me to fault the starters that evening. They scored high on both presentation and taste. Others who sampled the non-vegetarian starters also had the same opinion.

Thai curry Veg Pizza was one of the mains served. I liked the concept of Thai curry on a pizza. If I had to be picky, I would say the pizza could do with a tad more sauce and flavour. The mains menu also included some non-vegetarian dishes which I did not sample.

Thai Curry Veg Pizza

Veg Zarchaos  Pasta Primavera

We had no room left for dessert, thanks to the generous portions. Our interest was piqued when ‘Biramisu’, a spin on the traditional Tiramisu, was brought in. The chef informed us that this dessert had stout beer replacing the usual marsala, liqueur, or brandy used in traditional Tiramisu. Replacing a strong beer like stout with a lighter beer such as the Octoberfest may help. This experiment needs further tweaking before it can hit the right spot.

Biramisu

The starters are the best course on the menu. A glance at the bar menu revealed plenty of cocktails, shooters, flamers, and other high drama stuff to offer choice.

For those who are interested, their microbrewery turns out these organic brews in house with fully imported German machinery and methodology as well. The staff informed us they have 4 beers on tap currently. Col. Stout, Brew master’s special, Oktoberfest, and Capt. Wheat. Folks at U4IA take care to ensure their brews are fresh and carbonated just right to give customers a happy experience. If you are in this part of the city and want a fun space to watch the IPL or just to unwind, you could check U4IA out.

Samplers of inhouse brews

U4IA - Opposite Yamaha Showroom, 2nd Stage, Raj Mahal Vilas, New BEL Road, Bangalore,India.

Open on Monday to Thursday and Sunday from 11 am to 11 pm. Friday and Saturday – 11 am to 1 am.

Cost for 2 – Rs.1500 (approx)

Warning – Healthy Slurps does not endorse irresponsible drinking. Please adhere to legal age limits for drinking at your place. Do not drink and drive. Be aware that alcohol can be habit-forming and addictive.

 

Apr 16, 2015

Jowar dosai

Why millets? Why so much brouhaha over these pseudo cereals? Why is it important in a modern urban diet? Are they good at all? Who should eat millets? Who should not? These and many more facts set out for you here. Read on to know more.

Millets are not cereal grains, so they are called pseudo grains. Millets are smaller grains. They belong to five (or more) different botanical families, but are classified under one name as millets. Millets are grown for bird, animal and human consumption. Factors that go in favour of their cultivation are that they have a short growing season, grow in semi arid regions, (they need very little water) need very little attention. Different countries across the world have been growing and consuming millets for thousands of years. Unfortunately, urban diets have not included millets for about 50 years now.

So what is the good and bad about eating millets? Here, I split it up into its constituents and make it simple for all to understand.

The Carbohydrates -  Millets have complex starches in form of amylose and amylopectin. Such a starch can only be digested in cooked form by humans. Since they not easily digestible, they have a low glycemic index. That means they release their sugars into the blood stream in a slow steady fashion. Much like how a sustained release medicine works. There are no highs and lows in blood sugar when you are eating such starches. And yes, you guessed it right: this is great news for diabetics and pretty much everybody else.

The Proteins – After carbohydrates, proteins form the major part of millets. Egg and human milk are considered perfect proteins because they have the best combination of amino acids that the human body needs. When compared to these proteins, most millets are found to have insufficient amino acids to provide all nutrients for infants and growing children. Millets have been found to be deficient mainly in lysine, an essential amino acid. What are amino acids?

Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. There are 21 amino acids that form all the proteins ever known. Several of these amino acids are made in the human body. These are called non-essential amino acids because the body can make it on its own. Some of these are called essential amino acids. Why are they called so? Because they are necessary for growth and cell repair but cannot be synthesised in the human body. So they have to come from the food we eat. Lysine is one of these essential amino acids.

Does this mean that millets are not good enough for weaning food? Or to feed growing children? No. Millets are very good for children, when cooked well and when paired with a legume such as mung bean or tuvar dal. Legumes are naturally rich in lysine and by combining them in the same meal ensures that the meal gives complete protein for the growing body. Besides, millets are gluten free as well. So they are a safe bet for all, children, older people or those with gluten allergy.

Look forward to more information and recipes with millets in my forthcoming posts.

Meanwhile, here is a recipe for Jowar Dosai. This recipe is good for beginners who are not sure about how to begin including millets. Millets are great for people who need a gluten–free diet as well. Besides, here, the ground batter is fermented which increases the food’s digestibility as well as increasing the availability of several vitamins and minerals from the grains.

The initial trouble of soaking, grinding and fermenting is well worth the effort. The batter keeps well in the fridge for up to a week. When you have batter ready in the fridge, making dosai for a meal takes only a few minutes. You can choose to make regular size dosai for breakfast, dinner or coin-sized ones for your child’s lunch box.

Coin Dosai platter dotted with molaga podi

ALLERGY INFORMATION

Preparation Time – 8 hours soaking+1 hour grinding+8 hours fermentation, Cooking Time – 10-15 minutes, Makes – about 20 dosais.

YOU NEED -

COOKWARE - Wet grinder or mixer grinder, Iron skillet/griddle, Big deep dish mixing bowls, ladle, sharp metal spatula

INGREDIENTS -

  1. 1 cup Jowar grains
  2. 1 cup salem idli rice/boiled rice/raw rice
  3. 2 tbsp fenugreek seeds
  4. 2 tbsp urad dal
  5. 1 heaped tsp salt
  6. Sesame oil for drizzling over dosais, about 1/4 cup oil

METHOD -

  1. Measure out all ingredients except salt and oil. Rinse the grains well, Soak overnight. To do this, steep in enough water to cover the grains plus an inch higher.
  2. The next morning, grind the soaked grains. If using wet grinder, keep sprinkling water every 7-10 minutes. You can use up to 3 cups water for grinding. I grind my batter in a wet grinder. When using jowar grains, it takes longer to grind. About 1 hour of grinding gives me a smooth batter. When the batter looks smooth, add salt, mix well and remove to a deep bowl. Allow plenty of head room for fermentation. Leave overnight for fermentation.
  3. The batter is ready when it has risen to double volume.
  4. Heat up an iron skillet/dosa tawa. Smear oil all over to grease.
  5. Pour a ladleful batter in the centre of skillet. Spread with back of ladle in concentric circles. Drizzle few drops of oil around the sides. When brown at edges, loosen the edges, flip over with a sharp spatula and cook on other side. Repeat for the next ladle of batter.
  6. Alternately, pour tiny spoonfuls of batter all over the skillet to make ‘coin dosais’. Drizzle oil around the sides, flip over to cook briefly on other side. Remove to serving platter when done.
  7. Serve with any chutney of choice or with dosai molaga podi!

Coin dosai topped with molaga podi

Crispy or soft - fragrant Jowar Dosai

Apr 15, 2015

Baisakhi Food Festival @ Sheraton

Come April and the harvest festival is celebrated all through India under different names. Baisakhi, celebrated in this season by the hearty Punjabis, is a good reason to launch the Baisakhi Food Festival at Feast, Sheraton Bangalore. Now, this is a restaurant that is never dull. While the buffet spread at Feast is always a feast literally to all your senses, the folks do not believe in resting. Several events and food festivals are planned on a regular basis to give their old and new guests new food experiences.

When I was invited to review this event, I agreed, for Punjabi cuisine is known for its robust flavours and great variety as well.

View of Feast

View of the buffet and live counter

The menu includes all the traditional favourites. The Chefs have not wasted time in tweaking recipes or creating fusion dishes. Baisakhi it is, and Punjabi food, you get! Offering equal choice to both the vegetarians and the non vegetarians alike, pick as the fancy takes you. Among the vegetarian starters, you can enjoy Bharwan Paneer Tikka, Alu Mushroom Tikki, Tandoori Alu, or Rajma ki tikki.  Wash it down with salted lassi, or a pleasantly sharp jaljeera. If I felt the lassi was lightly watered down and not creamy and thick as I would expect, I realised it was a good thing. The drink was just right to whet my appetite instead of silencing it. Of the starters, the Rajma Tikki stood out for its silky smooth texture and balanced spices.

Drinks to start the meal

 Vegetarian starter platter

It would be wise to head on to the main course before you are filled up with the starters.  For, by no means should you ignore Sarson ka Saag. Set up at a separate station, with befitting accoutrements, this is probably the best you can find outside of Punjab! Bajre ki roti and Makai ki roti lend good support to the Saag. Enjoy the symphony that plays out in your tongue and brain while you are at this.

Sarson ka Saag with accompaniments

View of the open kitchen 

Can Paneer tikka Masala be not around when the cuisine is Punjabi? The folks at Feast do not disappoint. You will also find Dal Makhani, Sabz Masaledar, Alu Saagwala and such typical Punjabi dishes on the menu. Dal Makhani stood out for me for its rounded flavours and a rich, engulfing mouth feel. Steamed rice, choice of breads, fragrant pulao to accompany the entrees, you will find them all.

The Entrees of the evening

The live jalebi counter caught my attention. Piping hot jalebis with chilled rabdi is a match made in Punjabi heaven!  You can choose to satisfy your sweet cravings with flavoured falooda with matka kulfi, gajar ka halwa, and even a sugarless lapsi kheer for people with diet restrictions. These Punjabi desserts are in addition to their regular array of baked desserts and Teppanyaki ice cream.

Live Jalebi counter

desserts 

This special menu is in addition to the regular buffet spread available for lunch and dinner. With a sleek ambience, sunlight streaming in the day and cosy lighting at dinner time, Feast is a location you must try out. While there, soak in the ambience, enjoy the courtesy of the staff and tuck in into one of the biggest buffet spreads in the city. You will not be disappointed.

I was delighted to find the staff sensitive to special dietary requirements of guests. Be it vegan, vegetarian, Halal, gluten-free, lactose-free, sugar-free or any other needs that you may have are sure to be met with.

The Baisakhi Food Festival is on at Feast, Sheraton Bangalore from 10th to 19th April, 2015. If you can glug 500ml of the lassi at one go, your meal is free! Is that not a great reason to try out?

Apr 13, 2015

How to stay hydrated in summer

Summer finds several of us limp, enervated, and exhausted. Rising temperatures put us in misery. These are symptoms of reduced water levels in the body. To enable us to run through our day effectively, we need to keep a close watch on our hydration levels. We can live without food for much longer than living without water.  The importance of this simple nutrient is often underestimated.

So why is water important for us? What does water do to our body? Did you know that 70% of our body is made of water?

Among other functions, water is extremely necessary for these -

  • Water helps to circulate blood and other nutrients around inside the body.
  • Water removes toxins and waste from the body in the form of sweat, urine and stools.
  • Maintains body temperature by removing heat from the internal organs, and flushing it out of the body through sweat.

A decrease in water leads to several disturbances in normal body functions. Absence of enough water in the body leads to a condition called dehydration. How do we recognise these symptoms?  

  1. Do you know that your trips to the washroom are the best indicator of hydration levels? If you have yellow urine, accompanied some times with a burning sensation while urinating, OR if you have visited the washroom lesser than 2 times in the last 5 hours, and have been exercising or playing outdoors as well, then it is urgent that you sip up on fluids. Colourless urine is the best sign of hydration.
  2. Thirst – you have already lost 1% body water by the time the brain signals thirst! If you have not heeded your thirst signals, and are still away from your water bottle, you could experience some of these too -
  3. Dry around lips, fuzzy tongue.
  4. Increase in body temperature.
  5. Giddiness, shortness of breath.
  6. Confusion, lack of muscular coordination, muscle cramps. 
  7. Loss of control over bowel movement!
  8. Beware! A bad combination of excessively hot weather, loss of body fluids and not enough water replenishment can lead to heat stroke and even death.

How many of us really want to get to such extremes? We can quickly reverse these symptoms by drinking up. At the first sign of dehydration, or even before that, start drinking up. How much water should we drink? The National Institute of Nutrition recommends at least 8 glasses of water daily for an average Indian. In summer, during exercise or when there is excess sweating, the recommendations go up higher.

Tintrinee Panaka

 Featured in picture - Tintrinee PanakaRefreshing Tamarind Drink. Good way to hydrate in scorching heat.

The best way to re-hydrate is by sipping small mouthfuls of water throughout the day. Much like drip-irrigation in a field. Set up a pretty 1 litre glass bottle with drinking water close to your work station. Down a gulp every 10 minutes. This way, your water will last you for about 20 mouthfuls. If that is difficult, at least drink half a cup of water or other fluids every half an hour. This is more effective than drinking larger volumes at one time and going without fluids for long stretches of time.

Are there any other fluids that we can sip on? Surely, some people get nauseated from gulping only water throughout the day. Yes, there are some really healthy fluids that help you hydrate. Fluids like barley water, tender coconut water, diluted buttermilk, skim milk, unsweetened lemon juice, unsweetened fresh fruit juice, raw unsweetened juiced vegetables, and  are all great for keeping our body in safe hydrated zones. All these fluids also bring some vital nutrients like vitamins and minerals apart from replacing fluid losses in the body.

Aloe vera Lemonade

Featured in picture - Aloe vera Lemonade – with the cooling properties of Aloe vera. 

Then there are some foods that are high in moisture too. They help the body by adding valuable nutrients that are lost in excessive sweating. Foods that include moisture and essential minerals are cucumber, tomatoes, raw bottle gourd, watermelon, cantaloupe, oranges, apples. These are best eaten raw to ensure all the nutrients plus the water reaches the body.

In the next post, I will be discussing what fluids are not good for hydration. Also whether children, elderly, pregnant or sports people need any special hydration in summer.

Do write in if you have any unique dietary concerns for yourself or your family.

Apr 2, 2015

Baby Corn and Capsicum Masala Curry – Indian Cuisine

While Indian food may be very appealing, cooking it at home may seem daunting to most non-Indians. Here is a masala curry which does not burn your tongue with heat, nor ask for too many ingredients. A quick fix recipe that will suit weeknight dinners too. Helpful when sudden guests arrive, or when you have little time before hunger strikes you down.

Fry ingredients for gravy and grind. Fry chopped baby corn and capsicum, simmer with gravy, add seasonings and finish off! All under 15 minutes. And did I mention low fat as well? Now is that good? Or great? Well, try it out and tell me which one, will you?

Quick Baby Corn and Capsicum Masala Curry

ALLERGY INFORMATION

  • Does NOT contain gluten, nuts, corn, soya, eggs.
  • *Contains dairy in yoghurt. Yoghurt is usually tolerated by lactose intolerant people. Substitute with soya or nut milk + more tomatoes if you cannot use yoghurt.

YOU NEED

COOKWARE – Fry pan, ladle, mixer grinder, knife, chopping board

INGREDIENTS-

  1. 20 baby corn
  2. 1 cup chopped capsicum
  3. 1/2 cup chopped onion
  4. 1 cup chopped tomato (can substitute with 2 tbsp tomato paste, or 1/2 cup tomato puree)
  5. 1 tsp ginger garlic paste
  6. 2 handfuls coriander leaves with stem
  7. 1/2 tsp red chilli powder (optional)
  8. 2 tsp Pav bhaji masala (I used Phalada Organic brand)
  9. 1 cup thick curd/yoghurt*
  10. 1 tsp salt
  11. 2 tsp Cooking oil
  12. 1/2 tsp cumin
  13. 1/2 tsp Saunf (fennel)

Notes on yoghurt – Use skim milk yoghurt for low fat curry. Also use fresh curd that is not too sour. Else it may make the curry too tart. You can also add 1 tsp brown sugar or jaggery to cut the acidity if the final curry is too tangy.

METHOD -

  1. Take 1 tsp oil in fry pan. Fry chopped onion, tomatoes, ginger garlic paste. After tomatoes have turned mushy, add the coriander leaves and switch off flame. Cool and grind to smooth paste.
  2. In the same fry pan, add cumin and saunf to 1 tsp oil. When they sizzle, tip in chopped baby corn. Fry on high flame for 4-5 minutes, stir and toss to avoid it getting burnt. Add chopped capsicum after 4 minutes, toss again on high heat for 1-2 minutes. When capsicum is glistening and has lost its raw aroma, pour in the ground mixture.
  3. Add salt, red chilli powder, and pav bhaji masala. Whisk the curd well and pour that in too. Add 1 cup water and simmer for 4-5 minutes until the gravy and vegetables come together in a fragrant medley.
  4. Serve piping hot with kulcha, phulka, or peas pulao, steamed rice. I served it with fragrant peas pulao, baingan bharta and this tasty baby corn and capsicum masala curry.

Platter of Peas Pulao, Baby Corn and Capsicum Curry, and Baingan Bharta

Mar 28, 2015

Recipe: Sweet and Sour Pumpkin Curry

Sweet pumpkin is also known as Kaddu, Manjal Pooshanikkai, Gummadikayi in different Indian languages. Often considered as a lowly, humble vegetable, pumpkin actually packs a great punch in terms of nutrients. It is a weight watcher’s delight.

Sweet pumpkin has less calories and more nutrients. To explain this better, it has four times lesser calories than sweet potato, 50 times lesser Sodium but 3 times more Vitamin C, double the folic acid, and similar Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Iron content. This means that you can eat more of sweet pumpkin than sweet potato (up to 4 times more) and still benefit from its rich nutrients without the calorie overload. More health for lesser calories, now is that not a winner?

Sweet pumpkin seems to be this gentle, powerful giant among vegetables. It looks elegant despite its rotund form, swathed in deep green or mustard yellow skin revealing a firm sweet golden flesh when cut. Lends a quiet dignified presence to a dish, knows to be at home in sweet or savoury recipes with equal ease. Delicious whether cooked with skin or without. Pumpkin often comes to my rescue when I have to cook in a hurry.

Every family has their favourite pumpkin recipe. This is ours. I hope you have as much fun cooking it and enjoying as we do.

Pumpkin in a bowl

Preparation Time – 20 minutes, Cooking Time – 10-15 minutes, Serves – 4-6.

ALLERGY INFORMATION

  • Does NOT contain egg, gluten, soya, lactose, yeast, corn, nuts.
  • Suitable for gluten, lactose intolerance or nut allergy.

YOU NEED -

COOKWARE – Knife, Cutting board, Fry pan

INGREDIENTS -

  1. 2 cups chopped sweet yellow pumpkin (with* or without skin)
  2. 1/2 cup finely diced onion
  3. 1 cup chopped tomato
  4. 1 scant tsp salt
  5. 1/2 tsp turmeric
  6. 2 tsp jaggery powder
  7. 1 tsp garam masala powder
  8. 1 tsp sambhar powder
  9. 2 tsp cooking oil
  10. 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  11. 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  12. 2 tbsp coriander leaves for garnish

*Sweet pumpkin takes longer to cook with skin and lesser time without skin.

            METHOD -

            1. Clean, peel and chop all vegetables. Set aside separately.
            2. Heat oil in a fry pan, add mustard and cumin.
            3. When they sizzle and crackle, add in onions, fry on high flame for 3-4 minutes until they turn pink-brown.
            4. Next to go in is the chopped pumpkin. Saute on high heat for a minute, sprinkle water and cover and cook for a further 2 minutes.
            5. Finally add the tomatoes. Keep tossing over high heat until tomatoes mush up.
            6. Add salt, turmeric powder, jaggery, garam masala and sambhar powder. Mix everything well. Cover and simmer for 2-3 minutes more.
            7. Garnish with fresh chopped coriander leaves and serve hot with steamed rice.

            Pumpkin Sweet and sour curry

            Notes -

            • Sweet pumpkin cooks very quickly. Cook lesser if you want to retain the shape of the vegetables. Cook longer if you like a mushy texture.
            • Keep stirring while on high heat to avoid scorching.
            • Add the powders after the vegetables are mostly done. This helps to retain flavours better.

            Life's simple pleasures