Tag Archives: healthy

Not so bitter Bitter Gourd

Strange how it is that the foods that are really good for you, never rate very high on taste. They are either too boring, too slimy, too rubbery or in the case of the bitter gourd…too bitter! By the way, did you know that bitter gourd is actually a fruit? Or that this bitter beauty is a close cousin of zucchini and cucumber? The bitter gourd is packed with health benefits; it reduces blood sugar, its good for your cholesterol, it is rich in fibre and it may aid in weight loss.

But how does one get past its bitterness? One way, is frying it but then you tend to lose out on the nutrients and say goodbye to any weight loss dreams. Or you may stuff it with something yummy, tie it with a thread and again…fry it. Too time consuming? Then try the following simple, quick and delicious karela subzi recipe and I promise, if you do not overnight turn into a bitter gourd fan, you will be able to easily incorporate this healthy fruit in your menu.

Ingredients:

3 medium sized bitter gourd, cut into small rectangular pieces ( discard the pith and seeds)

1 big onion, chopped roughly

1 big tomato, thinly chopped

1 slit green chilli

1 and a half tablespoon jaggery

½ tablespoon tamarind

1 teaspoon coriander powder

½ teaspoon cumin powder

Pinch of turmeric

Salt to taste

Oil as required

Method:

Rinse the bitter gourd a few times with water then cut vertically, removing the pith and seeds. Cut it into thin small rectangles. If you wish, you can add some salt to the bitter gourd at this stage and set aside for a couple of minutes. Be sure to throw away the resultant juice and wash the bitter gourd well before cooking it. Also, if using salt here, taste the dish when it is just about done and only add salt, if required. In a glass bowl, soak the jaggery and tamarind in water. You can adjust the proportion of jaggery and tamarind, depending on how tangy you want your bitter gourd.

In a pan, heat some oil. Add onions and saute for a few minutes till they turn pink. Next, add the bitter gourd, giving it a good stir and then cover and cook on low flame for 7-10 minutes. Once the bitter gourd lose their distinctive green colour, add in the tomatoes and all the spices. Check for salt and add accordingly, cover and cook on low flame. Open and stir after 5 minutes; add a 2 tablespoons of water then cover and cook again till the oil oozes out from the sides and the bitter gourd and tomatoes are soft and cooked. Then add the tamarind pulp and jaggery (discarding the used tamarind pulp and sees) to the sabzi. Give it a quick stir, cover and cook for 2-3 minutes. Switch off the flame, sneak a taste and wonder why you always gave such a wide berth to the lovely bitter gourd!

Finger-licking Vegetable Biriyani

Sundays are always good food days at my house. And what dish can beat biriyani? Chicken and mutton biriyani are always scrumptious but I thought of making a vegetable biriyani today. (Also because owing to the Covid, have bid goodbye to non-vegetarian fare) This was the mood in which I began making my preparations but in a little while as I put some potatoes to fry and grilled my cottage cheese, I began to feel excited about how this biriyani will turn out. And let me tell you, it turned out absolutely delicious. We enjoyed it for itself, not as a poor substitute for a non-vegetarian biriyani. Agreed, it took almost as much time to make as a chicken biriyani. But with the lockdown in effect, time is one thing which I have in plenty 🙂 So, do try out this recipe. I can bet you will love it.

Ingredients:

2 big potatoes, cut long and thin (to make french fries)

3 onions, chopped

1 small cauliflower, chopped

1 large carrot, chopped

1 capsicum, cut into cubes

A handful of french beans, chopped

100 gms paneer

1 tablespoon processed cheese spread or 1 cube processed cheese

1 tablespoon curd

1 tablespoon tomato puree

2 1/2 cups basmati rice

8-10, cloves

10-14, peppercorns

3 cardamoms

2-3 bay leaves

1 1/2 tablespoon clarified butter

1/2 tablespoon butter

1 cup fried onion or birista

1 cup coriander, chopped

1 cup mint leaves, chopped

1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste 

1 teaspoon red chilli powder, adjust as per taste

1 teaspoon cumin powder

1 teaspoon coriander powder

2 teaspoon butter chicken masala or biriyani masala

1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder

Handful of raisins

Oil

Yellow and green food color mixed with milk

Salt, as per taste

Method:

To start, put water to boil in a deep bottomed pan. To this add, the whol cardamoms, cardamom powder, oil, bay leaves and half of the cloves and peppercorn and salt. Once the water starts to boil, add the rice. Boil till almost cooked. Drain and set aside. Add the yellow color to part of the rice and mix gently. Add the green color to the balance rice, mix and keep aside. Add black pepper and salt to your potatoes. Heat oil in a deep bottomed pan and make your french fries. Once cooked, in the same pan, grill your cottage cheese in a little oil.

Heat oil in a separate pan and add your remaining whole spices. Stir for two minutes and add the onions. Once the onions turn pinkish brown about ten minutes, add your tomatoes. Cover and cook for about 7-8 minutes, then add all your vegetables. Cover and cook for 5 minutes then add half a cup of water, salt and all the remaining spices. Cover and cook till vegetables are almost done. Then add the curd and tomato puree. Let everything simmer for a couple of minutes then add your cottage cheese, butter, cheese and about a quarter of your fried onions. Cook for five minutes and switch of the flame. Garnish with coriander and add half of the clarified butter.

Now, time to assemble your biriyani. In a big deep bottomed pan, pour some oil and spread it out to cover the entire bottom of the pan. Add a thin layer of rice. Top the rice with some french fries. Then add half of your vegetables mixture and a little fried onion. Add another layer of rice. Then all of your chopped capsicum and the remaining vegetables mixture. Cover with remaining rice. Drizzle the remaining clarified butter. Garnish with raisins, remaining fried onion, french fries, mint and coriander leaves. Cover with a lid and place a flat plate on top. Weigh it down with something heavy. You can also seal the plate and pan together with some kneaded flour if you have the energy left. I just went with the weight! Cook on slow flame for 10-12 minutes. Make some raita while this is getting done. Then open the lid, give yourself a pat on the back and dig in!

Chicken Shami Kebab

Try this dish when your body is craving proteins and yumminess both at the same time. Traditionally made with red meat in patties form, this is a variation which uses tender chunks of chicken while retaining all the flavours of the original mutton shami kebab. I have always had a love-hate relationship with red meat. Sometimes, I can gorge on it, wondering why I don’t have more of it while at others, even its smell puts me off. So, its no wonder, I prefer shami kebabs made with chicken, especially when I am the one making them. I can vouch for them; they turn out mouth wateringly delicious. Try them out!

Ingredients:

½ kg boneless chicken

¼ kg split chickpeas or chane ki dal

1 large onion, chopped

6-7 pods of garlic

Small chunk of ginger, equal to your garlic

4-5 kashmiri chillies

2 green chillies

4 eggs, beaten

1 cup chopped coriander

1 cup chopped mint leaves

5-6 whole black peppercorns

3-4 cloves

1 small cinnamon stick

1-2 whole cardamoms

Salt as per taste

Method:

Soak your chickpeas for about an hour before using. Wash your chicken and cut into small pieces. Boil your chickpeas and chicken together with all the ingredients excepts for the onion, eggs, coriander and mint. Do not put too much water. Keep checking whether your chicken and chickpeas are tender and put water accordingly. Cool your mixture and coarsely grind it in a mixer. Add the onions, coriander, mint leaves and two of the beaten eggs. Check for taste and add some garam masala powder. Shape it into patties, shallow dip in eggs (you can even do without them) and shallow fry your kebabs. Sprinkle some lemon, get out the ketchup and mint chutney and enjoy!

Snappy Chickpeas Salad

When you are in the mood for something quick, healthy and fun, try this salad. It has the goodness of protein-rich chickpeas, beta carotene dense carrots and cool, yummy yogurt. If you have some boiled chickpeas at hand, you can sit down to eat this salad in just a couple of minutes. So, to the recipe.

Ingredients:

1 cup boiled chickpeas

1 carrot, grated

1 apple, chopped

1 tablespoon black olives

2 tablespoon mayonnaise

1 cup yogurt

1 teaspoon oregano seasoning

1 teaspoon sandwich mix

½ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon sugar

Salt as per taste

Method:

Beat the mayonnaise and curd until smooth. Add all the seasonings, mix and check for taste. Add the chickpeas, carrots, apples and olives and dig in!

Funwich

Summers are here with a vengeance. All one wants to do is drink gallons of cool drinks and eat… but what? Sandwiches of course. Light, fresh and delicious. This sandwich is an old favourite. It uses one of my favourite vegetables, capsicum! There is just something unique about its particular flavour. Add it to your curries, grilled in a little oil just before switching off the flame and you will see what I mean. Now, this recipe also uses french fries! So you can be sure that the kids will like this sandwich. And french fries made at home are much better for them than those of a fast food joints. Also, I have used multigrain bread for the sandwich so it’s a healthy option for your lunch box or for an evening snack. So, without further ado lets move to the recipe.

Ingredients:

2 medium potatoes, cut long and thin

1 capsicum, cut into rounds

1 tomato, sliced

4 slices bread

2 tablespoon cheese spread

2 tablespoon chilli mayonnaise

Pinch of black pepper

Salt as required

Method:

Season the cut potatoes with salt and black pepper and deep fry till nice and golden. In a pan, drizzle a tiny bit of oil and roast your capsicum. Do the same with your tomatoes. Spread cheese on one slice and chilli mayonnaise or mustard sauce on the other. Layer the veggies, cover with the other bread slice and take a huge bite. Yum!

B for Badass Broccoli Soup

This is one of my favourite soups because…it has lots of broccoli. There is something about broccoli which just hits the right note with me. And for once something that I love is good for me as well 😊 So, I incorporate broccoli in a lot of my dishes. Broccoli is like one of those likeable people whom you can introduce to a whole lot of strangers and within ten minutes they would all be friends. Well, at least that’s how broccoli seems to me. In this soup, I have paired it with carrots. So, both me and Bugs Bunny for this soup!

Ingredients:

1 medium broccoli, roughly chopped

1 carrot, chopped

1 onion, chopped

½ cup milk, skimmed or full fat

2 teaspoon ginger garlic paste

1 tablespoon tomato puree or tomato ketchup (depending on whether you want it sour or sweet)

2 tablespoon whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1 teaspoon chaat masala

1 cup chopped coriander or mint

Salt as required

Method:

In a deep pan, bring the broccoli and carrots to a boil till they are nice and tender. In a separate pan, heat some olive oil. Once hot, add the chopped onions. Cook till the onions are pink, then add the tomato puree and ginger garlic paste. Once the oil leaves from the sides, add the whole wheat flour diluted in milk. Give everything a quick stir and add our boiled veggies and stock. You can also add half of a maggi chicken stock cube here. Cover and cook for a couple of minutes then add the Italian seasoning, chaat masala and chopped coriander. Let everything simmer for another five minutes and you are done!

Soup for the Sniffles

Hot weather and people catch colds! Sometimes I feel Nature is just a bit of a sadist. Everywhere I turn these days, I see people sniffling or clearing their throats the way people do when it hurts them. Worst is the way people ‘sniff, sniff, sniff’! You offer them a hankie, they thank you and off they go sniffling again. Things are no different at my house. And the worst part is seeing the snifflers, I feel a sniff coming on myself. Better to do something about it quick! So, I make soup. Hot, chickeny and eggey! Personally, I am a bit of a vegetarian where soups are concerned. But hot chicken and egg soup are good for the sniffles. Hmm.. So, I combine them with veggies. Everyone is happy. And so is their cold! Now, onwards, to the recipe.

Ingredients:

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup boiled chicken

1 chopped onion

1 cup chopped veggies (I used carrots and babycorn)

1 cup sweet corn kernels

1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste

½ teaspoon black pepper powder

½ a maggi chicken cube (you can also use chicken broth)

1 tablespoon whole wheat flour

½ a cup chopped coriander

Salt as per taste

Olive oil

Method:

In a deep pan, bring the sweet corn to a boil, till are all soft and boiled. In another pan, heat some olive oil. Once hot, add the chopped onions. Give it a quick stir and add your veggies. Once a little tender, add the chicken and all your spices. Cover and simmer for 5-7 minutes. Dilute whole wheat flour in some water and add to the pan. Add the sweet corn along with the water used for boiling them to your veggies. Slowly add the beaten eggs in a circular motion. Use a spoon to stir and cook your eggs. This should just a few minutes. Top with lots of lovely coriander and cook for just another two minutes. Serve your yummy, restaurant style soup!

Sprouts n Fruits Delight

I have nothing against sprouts but I can easily do without them. So, of course they have to be good for you. How to eat them then? Why, in a salad of course! This is a good recipe when you want something sans oil, something refreshing and something that is a meal in itself. Here’s the recipe.

Ingredients:

2 cups boiled mixed sprouts

1 chopped tomato

1 chopped cucumber

1 small chopped onion

1 cup chopped apple

1/2 cup pomegranate seeds

1/2 cup peanuts

Juice of one lemon

1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder

1 teaspoon cumin powder

1 teaspoon rock salt or jaljeera powder

1 teaspoon sugar

Salt for seasoning

Handful of chopped coriander

Method:

Mix everything together. Add salt as required. Dig in!

Mum Style Steamed Milk Pudding

I have been having this pudding since I was a kid. My mum used to make it when we had guests over for lunch. Everybody used to like it but there was one problem. My mum used a particular pan to make this pudding and she could never make more pudding than what would fill her special pan. So, whether we had two guests or ten, the pudding was always the same size! But don’t worry, over the years she has perfected the ratio of the different ingredients in this pudding, so you can go ahead and choose what size you want your pudding to be. But do stick to the ratio or the consistency won’t be what it should be. Now, this is one dessert which doesn’t require much work. Just a couple of minutes of preparation and then it quietly steams itself. Did I mention its steamed? Yes. So, it is quite healthy as desserts go. It has eggs and milk and very little bread. And instead of food colour, we are using saffron. So, it’s a good choice when you are watching the calories.

Ingredients:

½ litre milk, skimmed or full fat

2 eggs, beaten

2 slices white bread

2 teaspoons sugar

1 ½ teaspoon butter

Few strands of saffron

5-6 drops of pineapple essence

Slivered dry fruits for garnishing.

Method:

Boil the milk along with one teaspoon sugar and the saffron strands. Roughly tear the bread slices and add to the hot milk. Let the milk cool a little. When it is lukewarm, pour in the beaten eggs. Use your hands to mash everything together. In a deep pan, heat the butter. Once hot, add the remaining sugar. Stir constantly till its gets caramelised then switch off the flame. Best to switch off the flame when it is just about to get brown or you will burn it! Then don’t blame me if your pudding tastes bitter. Pour the milk batter over the caramel. Switch on the gas on a slow flame. Cover your sauce pan with a lid. You can even add some weight on top of your lid so that the steam doesn’t escape. Check your pudding after 10-12 minutes. Put a knife in it and if it comes out clean, your pudding is almost done. Top it with the slivered dry fruits and steam it for another couple of minutes. Yummy, healthy, homemade! Just the way you want it. Try it out!

A Nutty Affair

This is an old family recipe. Try this recipe, when you are short of time and there is nothing much to cook at home but you are determined to still have something home cooked! This recipe is healthy and also quite tasty. And its versatile, you can use it in so many different ways. As a spread in a healthy burger, as a dip to go with your favourite chips, as a stuffing or you can simply have it with a chapati or some pulao. And the beauty of this dish is, it takes ten minutes tops from start to finish. Now for the recipe.

Ingredients:

1 tomato finely chopped

2 cups salted or unsalted peanuts

1-2 green chillies

8-10 cloves of garlic

Salt as per taste

Method:

In a mixer, coarsely grind together peanuts, green chillies and garlic. Heat oil in a pan. Once hot, add the chopped tomatoes. Cook till tender and then add the ground peanut mixture. You can add water depending on how you mean to use it. Add water, if its for a dip and keep it dry if you want it as a stuffing for some dish. Check for salt. Garnish with fresh coriander. Hit stop on your stopwatch. See how long it took you. Now take a spoon and dig in!