27 May 2016

Breakfast with Jackfruit

               Health nowadays is not just a much clichéd, but also much abused term, as is 'Diet'. There is so much more to a "healthy lifestyle" than just food.  To quote Chef Ranveer Brar, "Food unfortunately bears the brunt for our health issues & lifestyle, of which diet is only a small part." 
             It's encouraging, however to find the ever-growing food fraternity experimenting with healthy alternatives and fusing them to suit different palates. So when I received an invite to the #FunWithJackfruit365 event at Hotel Grand Mercure, Bangalore, I was intrigued by what I could expect. (I say intrigued not only because I wasn't yet aware of the culinary possibilities with Jackfruit, but also because the fruit is not exactly on top of my 'fav-food' list!) 
                The intro given by Mr James Joseph, the founder & brand ambassador of Jackfruit365 was quite an eye-opener. Jackfruit, that some tend to either shy away from due to the messy cutting process, or (as I found out while talking to co-foodies) use in cooking but hadn't consumed as a fruit, has immense health qualities. Its low Glycemic index, coupled with high fibre & protein content make it a dream supplement for many.
               While the fruit, also known as 'Kathal' by many, has been included in cooking in its ripe and/or semi-ripe forms, the use of dried Jackfruit flour was something new to me. The Jackfruit365 product in focus that day, Freeze-dried Raw Jackfruit is versatile in that, it can be used in many forms, soaked and used in your dishes of choice, ground and used as flour supplements or simply as chips if you are looking for a quick afternoon munch!  
              The breakfast delicacies that were prepared for the event, with Jackfruit as one of the key ingredients made for a sumptuous spread. Special mention for the Galouti Kebab here. So long I have heard & read about these famed kebabs being made with Kidney beans or soya to appeal to the vegetarians. But here, these were made primarily with soaked raw Jackfruit365, blended with the other ingredients. The result, truly melt-in-the-mouth kebabs that almost made me a permanent fixture at the Galouti Kebab counter! 
                     Another element that intrigued me was the smoky flavour. Now the kebabs were being shallow-fried and I couldn't see a 'Dhungar' step at any point. So where was that flavour coming from? A conversation with the chef in question answered my curiosity. The 'Dhungar' effect had already been given at the kebab mixture preparation stage; also that the mix was best prepared well in advance to let the flavours set in properly. Well, I stop here with the narrative and will let you visually savour the goodies...you can find more about the products and recipes at Jackfruit365's website ... 
And yes, the product is available to order from Amazon.in

23 May 2016

Mexican Style Pizza

                 Pizzas, like the Indian paratha, are versatile and full of possibilities. Be it the flour, crust, stuffing/toppings, we can keep on experimenting with them. Here's a pizza experiment with a Mexican-style topping. 
It's interesting to read how the Mexican style of  cooking uses spices from different regions, for eg, Cilantro brought in by the Spanish and the cumin seed, that is Eastern Mediterranean....I have personally seen Mexican food find many lovers in the lovers of Indian cuisine, and of course, needless to say that we adapt it to suit our palate further!!
This recipe is also part of our #FoodieMonday theme of #PizzaMania...

Ingredients :

Pizza base - readymade or homemade using this method

Mexican-Style Topping :
Cooked kidney beans (Rajma) - 2 cups
Tomato purée - 1 cup
Colored Bell Peppers - 1 cup, finely chopped
Paneer - 1 cup, cubed
Cajun spice - 2 tsps
Salt to taste
Chili flakes - 1 tsp (optional)
Shredded cheese as required
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Oil - 2 tbsps

Method :
1. Heat oil in a pan, add cumin seeds and let crackle.
2. Add chopped bell peppers and sauté. for about 5 minutes. Add the tomato purée, salt to taste and let simmer.
3. After about 7-8 minutes, tip in the cooked Rajma and paneer cubes and mix well. Add the cajun spice (homemade or readymade Mexican seasoning available in the market) and optionally, chili flakes if you like it extra hot. 
4. Mix again, check for salt and let simmer for about 5 minutes more or till almost all the gravy is absorbed. Remove and keep aside.
5. If making your own pizza base, half-cook the base in the oven on high for 2 minutes. Remove, brush a little oil on the surface. Spread the Mexican stuffing on top, onion slices and sprinkle shredded cheese. Also optional to top up with sliced bell peppers.
6. Bake in a microwave oven at 170 deg C for 5 minutes, followed by 3 more minutes at 200 Deg C or till the cheese melts and becomes golden brown.
Serve hot as desired.

16 May 2016

Mixed Fruit Lemonade

With a riot of seasonal fruits around us, 'tis the time for Summer-special drinks..The more, the healthier! Here's a simple healthy drink to put together that can be had on its own or fizzed up with some soda! 
Ingredients : (Makes 3-4 glasses)
Apples - 2 (cubed)
Blueberries (optional) - 4-5
Ginger - 1 inch piece
Juice of 1 lemon
Brown sugar - 2 tbsps (If using white sugar, make it 1.5 tbsps)
Apple Juice - 1/2 cup
Juice masala/ Black salt or pepper powder (optional) - 1/4 tsp
Plain soda - as required
For garnish :
Mint leaves
Lemon wedges
1. In a blender jar, add the apple cubes, chopped ginger, blueberries, lemon juice, brown sugar, apple juice, juice masala or black salt and ice cubes and blend. 
2. Sieve through a slightly wide-eyed sieve (if you like it pulpy) into a jar. Refrigerate. 
3. Pour equal portions into the serving glasses and dilute if need be or top off with some soda for the extra fizz!! Garnish with lemon wedges and mint leaves.

9 May 2016

Banana Flower Usuli (Paruppu Usuli/Usili)

        BANANA FLOWER is filled with innumerable goodness factors. In fact words aren't enough to describe the uses and benefits of the Banana Tree as a whole!!
The flower is rich in proteins, vitamins and flavanoids. They are also said to have anti-oxidant properties. In one of my earlier recipes in this blog I used French Beans with lentils in a dish called 'Usuli'. Here the base recipe is the same, except we use Banana flower instead of the beans. 
One of my mum's specialities, here's an attempt to recreate it as a Mother's Day special :)       BANANA FLOWER (VAAZHAIPOO) USULI
Ingredients :
Banana Flower - 1 medium
Buttermilk - enough to soak the banana flower
Toor Dal (split pigeon peas) - 1 cup
Chana Dal (Bengal gram) - 1 tbsp
Dry red chilies - 2
Hing (Asafoetida) powder - 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste
Oil - 4 to 5 tbsps
Rai (Mustard seeds) - 1 tsp
Urad dal (split black gram)  - 1 tsp

Method : 
1. Separate the florets from the main banana flower and remove the stem from the middle. Chop the florets and soak them overnight in buttermilk.
2. Wash the chopped florets in clean water and drain. Cook using a pinch haldi and little salt till soft.
3. Wash and soak the Toor dal and Chana dal for about 30 minutes. Drain and leave in a colander or sieve.
4. In a mixer, blend the drained dals, red chilies, salt and hing. Use very little water, say about 1-2 tbsps and grind to a coarse paste (fine semolina/rawa consistency)
5. Spread this mixture on a steamer/Idli plate, make little gaps in between to allow even cooking and steam cook for about 15-20 minutes.
6. Remove the cooked dal, spread it on to a wide plate and let cool. Once down to room temperature, lightly crumble using hands to prevent any lump formation. A neat trick is to give it a very quick run in the mixer, just 2 quick turns, which will help break down the dal clusters formed during the steaming.
7. Heat oil in a pan and add the urad dal, followed by rai. Once rai splutters, add the cooked dal and mix well to let the oil coat the lentils all through and cook evenly, for 5 to 7 minutes. Again, make sure no lumps are visible.
8. Now add the cooked banana flowers and mix well. Check for salt, and let cook for about 4 to 5 minutes more. Remove and serve hot.

2 May 2016

Spicy Kofta Kadhi

When we speak of pulses, there's never a dearth of recipes in the Indian culinary repository. From savouries to the main course, the use of pulses is versatile.
Kadhi is a popular dish, more popular with the pakodas version in the north, and more with vegetables or mini vadas (paruppu urundai) in the South.
Here's a spicy Kofta Kadhi preparation that will be a striking combination for rice and Indian breads..
And yes...it's the theme for our Bloghop #DalDelights as well...
Ingredients :
For the Koftas:
Masoor Dal/Red Lentil - 1/4 cup
Moong Dal/Green gram - 1/4 cup
Green chilies - 2, slit
Salt to taste
For the Kadhi:
Whisked curds - 2 cups
Besan/ Gram flour - 2 tbsps
Haldi/Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste
Oil - 2 tbsps
Dry red chilies - 2
Sabut Dhaniya/Coriander seeds - 1/2 tsp
Jeers/Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Methi/Fenugreek seeds - 1/4 tsp
Grated ginger - 2 tsps
Curry leaves
Method :
1. For the koftas, soak both the dals for about 1 hour. Drain water and blend to a paste along with salt and green chilies using just enough water to get a thick batter. Keep aside.
2. For the kadhi, in a saucepan, whisk the curds, besan, haldi and salt with 2 cups water, leave no lumps. Let simmer on low heat and bring to a boil.
3. Prepare the tempering by heating oil in a small pan, add the ingredients one by one and remove. Remember to add methi seeds in the end and roast for just a minute to avoid it blackening.
4. Pour the tempering over the kadhi, stir once and remove the kadhi from the flame.
5. Prepare the koftas as the last step so they remain crisp. Fry them till golden brown and drain excess oil on an absorbent paper.
6. Simmer kadhi and add the koftas just before serving. Serve with rice or rotis....