Monday, September 26, 2016

Masala Karela ( Bitter-gourd sautéed with spices); Meatless Monday



Bitter gourd is very common vegetable in India, but from which most people stay away because it is bitter! Once you know how to deal with the bitterness, it is a very tasty, nutrient-rich vegetable! You can read more about the health benefits of bitter gourd in the "tip for healthy living " section.




We in our household don't shy away from Karela. We actually quite love it. I fry them, I stir-fry them, curry them.. There is a lot you can do with this vegetable! Check the " cooking made easy for method to take the bitterness of the Karela away! Today, I am sharing with you a quick, easy and a delicious recipe. This I learnt from a member of food group, Vidya Thakur. As always, I have added my touch to this recipe too.. For me cooking  is like a freestyle painting where the end product depends on the artist's mood at the time. Without further ado, here is the recipe!

Servings: 3-4



Prep time: 45 mins ( including marinating in salt and turmeric powder).Cook time: 15-20 minsTotal time: 1 hour



Ingredients:


Bitter gourd ( Karela): 2-3 medium sized.
Turmeric powder: 1 tsp
Salt: 1 tsp
Coconut oil: 2-3 tbsp ( any cooking oil may be used)
Mustard seeds: 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves: 1 sprig ( optional)
Onion: 1 medium-sized, chopped
Asofoetida: a pinch
Kashmiri red Chilli powder: 1 tbsp ( paprika can be used instead of red chilli powder)
Jaggery: 1 tsp ( brown sugar may be used instead of jaggery)
Tamarind pulp: 1 tsp, dissolved in 1/4 cup of water.

Method:


Slice the Karela into 0.5 cms thick rings. Mix it with a little salt and 1 tsp turmeric powder. Keep this aside for at least 30 mins to 1 hour. This takes the bitterness away.

Squeeze the karela pieces from the marinade and keep aside. Discard the liquid.

Heat 2 tbsp oil in a sauté pan ( kadai) on medium heat.

Add the squeezed Karela pieces to the pan and sauté until slightly crisp. Take it out in a plate/ bowl. Keep aside.

Heat 1 tbsp oil in the same pan/kadai. Add mustard seeds. Once the mustard seeds splutter, add curry leaves and the chopped onion.

 Sauté until the onion is lightly golden brown.

Then add Kashmiri red chilli powder and asofoetida. Sauté for a minute.

Now add the tamarind pulp solution and jaggery. Let  it cook for a minute.

Add the fried Karela slices to the pan. Toss nicely so that all the pieces are coated with the sauce. Let it come offer for 1-2 mins.

Serve hot with rice/ roti ( flat bread ) or bread of any kind. Tastes great with curd rice.

This stays good in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Enjoy!

Cooking made easy:


This is a fool-proof way to get rid of the bitterness: slice/chop Karela and mix it with a little salt and 1 tsp turmeric powder. Keep this aside for at least 30 mins to 1 hour. I like to leave mine overnight. When you are ready to use the Karela, squeeze it from the marinade and keep aside. Discard the liquid. The Karela will no longer taste bitter.

Tip for healthy living:


It is an established fact that bitter gourd helps to regulate blood sugar levels and therefore keep diabetes under control. Ayurvedic research has confirmed these findings.

Food for thought:


Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers. Alfred Lord Tennyson

Monday, September 19, 2016

Taushe Idli/Dosa ( Cucumber Rice Cakes & Crepes); Meatless Monday



Recently I visited my cousin who lives upstate. She had a huge bounty of vegetables in her garden in this summer. She gave me a bunch of tomatoes and some cucumbers to bring home with me. I was thrilled to have fresh vegetables that were just plucked off the plants! The cucumbers were huge and delicious. Looking at them made me nostalgic and crave for taushe idli. Taushe idli / Tausali is another very traditional Mangalorean Konkani breakfast item that very few people are familiar with elsewhere! It is basically cucumber- rice- coconut steamed cakes that is usually sweetened with jaggery( unprocessed sugar). The same batter can be slightly diluted and made into crepes. Both taste good to me. I am partial to the idlis more than the crepes ( this is one rare case where I don't profess my love for dosas!). There is also a savory version that can be made in which jaggery is not used and the crepe is served with a spicy chutney/dip.



These idlis look like the regular idlis in shape and size but are golden yellow in color. Some people also steam the batter in a plate and slice it into squares/rectangles like a dhokla.
The steaming method for this is the same as for regular idlis. This is one idli for which the batter is not fermented at all. In fact, you are likely to ruin the idli if you leave the batter uncooked once it is made, as the cucumber releases water and thins the batter. Hence it is very important to steam the idlis as soon as the batter is made.



Do try it if you get a chance. It will be something different and nice.

Servings:  Makes 16 idlis


Prep time: 20 mins + atleast 1 hour soaking time for rice.Cook time: 10-15 minsTotal time: 35 mins plus rice soaking time.


Ingredients:


White rice/dosa rice: 2 cups
Cucumber: 1 large sized, peeled and  grated.
Freshly grated coconut: 1 cup
Jaggery: 1.5 cups, grated
Salt: a pinch
Water: 6 cups for soaking the rice.
Oil: to grease the idli mold/skillet.


Method:


Soak the white rice in 6 cups of water for atleast 1-2 hours.

Using your hands, squeeze out as much water as possible from the grated cucumber. Reserve the water. Keep the squeezed cucumber in a different bowl.

Grease the idli moulds and keep ready.

Add water to the idli steamer as per the instruction on the steamer or to the required water level. Heat the steamer on medium heat.

Drain the rice. Put it in the mixer/blender and grind it coarsely. Use the reserved liquid from the cucumber to grind. Use as little water as possible for grinding. (Later when the jaggery is added, it thins the batter!)

Once the rice is coarsely ground, add freshly grated coconut, grated jaggery and salt and pulse it until it is all nicely mixed.

Take the prepared batter in a bowl.

To prepare idlis:


Add 1 ladleful of to each of the impressions in the mold. Place the rack in the steamer. Steam on high flame for 10-12 mins.Test if done by inserting a toothpick. If the toothpick comes out clean, it is done.




Let it cool down for 5-10 mins before attempting to remove the idli out of the mold. Use a butter knife to remove it. If the plate has been greased well, the idli should come right out!

Serve hot with butter or ghee ( clarified butter ) on top.



Enjoy!

To make crepes:

Heat the griddle/tawa. Grease the griddle/skillet with coconut oil.

Add a ladleful of batter to the center of the griddle. Spread it by moving the ladle in circles over the batter and spreading it. Reduce the flame to medium and let it cook for 2-3 mins until the crepe is cooked. Flip it and cook the other side for a minute.


Serve hot with butter or ghee ( clarified butter).

Enjoy!

Cooking made easy:


If you don't have jaggery, you can use brown sugar or coconut-palm sugar.

The no-grind method:
If you are in a rush and don't have the time to soak the rice and grind it, you can use rice rawa/idli rawa to make the batter. Just mix all the ingredients in a bowl . The steaming process is the same.

Tip for healthy living:


Jaggery is a great substitute for crystallized sugar. It is inexpensive, less processed, rich in iron and therefore much healthier. Read more in references below.


Food for thought:


A hero is someone who has given his/her life to something bigger than oneself. Joseph Campbell

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Sanna ( Mangalorean Steamed Rice Cakes).


Almost all Indians are familiar with Idli, but very few are familiar with sanna. So what exactly is sanna??




Sanna is a Mangalorean Catholic specialty cuisine item. It looks exactly like idlis but is much lighter and fluffier. It is even fluffier and softer than mallige idlis. It has more of a fluffy bread-like consistency( well, the ideal version). This also uses rice and urad dal in it's batter but also requires other fermentation agents like toddy or yeast. The traditional recipe calls for toddy to ferment the batter but since toddy is not available here, yeast is used as a substitute, which works pretty well. Sannas are usually served with egg/chicken/ meat curries/stews and DO NOT taste good with sambar or chutney. Well, that is my opinion. It has a slight sweet taste, due to which little kids & those who don't like spice can enjoy it as is. Sannas are also prepared by steaming the batter in an idli steamer. However, these are best steamed in idli cups ( gindal) or ramekins. The cups have to have depth to them and cannot be shallow like those found in the typical idli steamer tray.





I love sannas and was craving for them when my friend's mother was in town. My sister gave me this recipe stating it is quite fool-proof. coincidentally, I found that the recipe was from my dear blogger friend Shireen, who  blogs from Ruchik Randap. I modified the recipe for my convenience. You can find the original recipe here. The recipe itself is quite easy. The tricky part is getting the fermentation right. Do try it...





Prep time: 20 mins and  at least 3 hours soaking timeCook time: 20 minsTotal time: 4-4.5 hours


Servings: makes 12-14 idlis


Ingredients:


Raw rice ( any white rice): 1/4 cup
Idli rice/ parboiled rice: 3/4 cup
Urad dal( split matpe bean): 2 tbsp
Dry active instant Yeast: 3/4 tsp
Sugar: 2 tsp
Salt: 1/4 tsp
Water: to soak and grind the rice & lentils

Method:


Wash and soak the rice together in water in a bowl. Use 4 times the amount of water than the rice. Soak the urad dal separately. Soak for atleast 3 hours.

Drain and grind the urad dal separately until fluffy. Take it in a bowl. Now grind the rice to a fine paste using water as needed to grind the batter. Add it to the bowl. Add the salt, sugar and instant active  yeast and mix well.

Cover and keep in a warm place for 2 hours for fermentation. Once fermented, make sure you do not stir the batter.





Fill the steamer with water as per the individual idli steamer requirement. Grease the ramekins. Add batter into the ramekin until 2/3rd full. Place the ramekins in the steamer. Steam on medium for 15-20 mins or until a toothpick when inserted comes out clean.





Place the ramekins upside down on a tray/plate/baking sheet and let it cool down completely before attempting to remove it.





Serve with a spicy curry/ stew of your choice. I have served with chicken curry, the recipe for which you can find here. You can find the recipe for the egg curry here.





Enjoy!


I am bringing this Manglorean specialty for my friends to try, at Throwback Thursday #54,  Fiesta Friday #136 and Saucy Saturday#61! Angie's co-host this week is Judi @ CookingWithAuntJuJu

Cooking made easy:


If you don't have an idli steamer, you can use a pressure cooker/ pressure     pan, place a steamer plate at the bottom and keep the ramekins on top of the plate to steam. Make sure that the water does not rice above the steamer plate.

Tip for healthy living:


Fermented foods act as rich in probiotics. This helps maintain the flora and fauna in the gut which in turn is essential for digestive health. You can read more in the references below. 


References:

http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12602-014-9158-2
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24676724
http://articles.mercola.com/fermented-foods.aspx
http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/nutrition_news_information/7_must_eat_fermented_foods_for_a_healthy_gut

Food for thought:


Good teachers know how to bring out the best in students. Charles Kurait




Please do share your thoughts. Your opinion matters!



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Saturday, September 3, 2016

Parmesan Herb Crusted Steamed Potatoes



Hello to all potato lovers!! Today is your day! I am bringing you POTATOES!!! So why potatoes?? Well, my dear blogger friend Sonal felt like potatoes and she announced that she wants to make a collective on POTATOES! I said, sure I will contribute too.. I personally no longer eat potatoes, but my hubby dear loves them to death!! Really, the man would be happy if I gave him potatoes for breakfast, lunch & dinner, everyday!! How can anyone love potatoes so much??? But, I guess they can. It is a good thing that I don't make them daily!





So what have I brought you guys today?? Something that you could put together in 8 mins or less, flat!! I mean it! This is a perfect dish for weeknight dinners or if you have nothing ready & have sudden hunger pangs, when you are on road trips and your hotel room has a microwave , for lunch boxes and even picnics, maybe.  I have used Klondlike baby red potatoes .



The package I used is meant to be prepared in the microwave. I however, not being a huge fan of microwave cooking, steamed it the old fashioned way. You may choose to use either method. You also can use any other baby potatoes or use big potatoes and chop it into bite sized pieces. Red potatoes work best for this recipe.




Servings: 2-3



Prep time: 2 mins

Cook time: 5-6 mins

Total time: 8-9 mins



Ingredients:


Baby potatoes: 6
Butter: 1 tsp, at room temperature.
Dry mixed Italian herbs: 1/2 tsp ( you can use fresh herbs too).
Parmesan cheese: 1 tbsp
Sea-salt: 1/2 tsp
Garlic powder: 1/4 tsp
Black pepper powder: 1/2 tsp, freshly ground

Method:


Steam the potatoes whole for 5-6 mins ( to your desired level of tenderness).





While the potatoes are being steamed, in a small bowl, mix together butter, garlic powder, sea salt, herbs and black pepper. Reserve a pinch of herbs to sprinkle on top ( garnish).

Once the potatoes are steamed, cut them into 2 or 3 pieces( if they are big). Take it in a bowl. 




Add the butter-herb mixture, 90%of the Parmesan cheese and toss so that it is coated well. 



Transfer to the serving bowl. Sprinkle the reserved  herbs and Parmesan cheese.

Enjoy!


I am bringing these potatoes to my friends at Throwback Thursday #53, Fiesta Friday #135 and Saucy Saturday#60! Angie's co-hosts this week are Jhuls @ thenotsocreativecook and Suzanne @ apuginthekitchen.

Cooking made easy:


Like said earlier, you can follow the instructions on the package and cook it in the microwave .

Instead of mixing the butter with the herbs, salt garlic powder, you can mix the butter with the steamed potatoes and sprinkle the rest of the ingredients and toss it until well coated.

Tip for healthy living:


Whenever possible use organic potatoes as potatoes have the highest level of pesticides in them. They are subjected to double whammy. They absorb the pesticides sprayed on them and also that which is present in the soil.


Food for thought:


The best preparation for good work tomorrow is to do good work today. Elbert Hubbard



Please do share your thoughts. Your opinion matters!


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Friday, September 2, 2016

Grilled Corn- Zucchini Salsa with Sriracha




It is Labor Day weekend! Most people have barbecues that they are either going to or are hosting. If nothing, you may have guests coming over. Well, if nothing else, being that this is the last long weekend of the summer, you might want to put your feet up and just plain relax!





For all these occasions, I have the perfect dish for you! Something you don't have to sweat in front of the stove for and something you can put together in a jiffy. Yes, my Zucchini- Corn Salsa! Pair it with some tostitos or some healthy quinoa chips and a cold drink and you are all set! You can party alone or with a bunch of people!! This is a semi-homemade dish. You can also make it completely home-made! I was in a rush, therefore used readymade salsa. You can make the salsa from scratch, the recipe for which can be found here. You can also find this tomatillo salsa or salsa verde interesting.




Now let me tell you how to transform a mundane store-bought salsa into something amazingly healthy!









Servings: 8-10



Prep time: 5minsCook time: 10 minsTotal time: 15 mins



Ingredients:


Zucchini: 1, medium-sized, diced small
Onion: 1 small, diced small
Olive oil: 1 tsp
Grilled Corn on the cob: 1, medium, shucked. ( you can also use canned corn kernels. If using the can, use 1 can , rinsed and drained).
Salsa: 1 jar, mild/medium spice level ( you can choose any brand and any spice level that you prefer.
Salt: a pinch
Black pepper: 1/4 tsp
Sriracha: 1 tbsp ( can adjust based on individual spice level)
Cilantro: 1 tbsp, finely chopped


Method:


Heat oil in a skillet on medium flame. Add the chopped onion. Sauté for 2-3 mins until the onion is wilted.

Now add the shucked corn kernels. Cook for a minute.

Add the diced zucchini. Cook for 1-2 mins.

Add  the salsa, Sriracha, salt &  pepper.  Mix and cook for 2 mins.

Garnish with fresh cilantro.




Keep chilled in the refrigerator until ready to use. Lasts for 7-10 days in the refrigerator.

Can be made ahead for a party.

Serve with chips of your choice.

I served with tostitos scoops and gluten free quinoa-black bean chips.

Enjoy! 

I am sharing this healthy version of salsa with my friends at Throwback Thursday #53, Fiesta Friday #135 and Saucy Saturday#59! Angie's co-hosts this week are Jhuls @ thenotsocreativecook and Suzanne @ apuginthekitchen.



Cooking made easy:


If you do not have grilled corn, it is absolutely fine! I had some leftover grilled corn that I used.  You can make this delicious salsa with canned corn kernels or steamed corn on the cob. You can also use frozen corn kernels.

Other vegetables like peppers can be diced and added.


Tip for healthy living:


Physical activity is recommended for all ages and almost all physical conditions.  For adults, 30 mins of moderate exercise daily or 75 mins of strenuous exercise through the week is recommended. For kids 2-16 years of age, 60 mins of moderate exercise daily is recommended .


Food for thought:

Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go. Oscar Wilde


Please do share your thoughts. Your opinion matters!


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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Museum of Icecream; my visit.




Kindly note: The children's faces have been blurred on purpose in all the pictures in this post.



At the outset, I would like to start by saying that as much as my today's topic might seem against everything that I believe in and promote, that cannot be further from the truth!
The idealism behind Su's Healthy Living is to promote healthy eating and healthy living. This is not something that you do for a brief time, it is a way of life !! If something has to last, then you cannot have cravings or be deprived of anything. That's why, I believe that everything in moderation is good. As long as you are eating & living healthy 99% of the time, you have room for 1% indulgence! This is especially needed for children.

The visit to the Museum of Ice cream was one such indulgence!


Today, I am writing about my experience at the latest rage in town, the pop-up museum: Museum of Icecream. The museum opened on 29th July, 2016 and will remain open until 31st August,2016. Single tickets are $18,the Double couple package is $30 and kids under 12 and seniors pay $12. Ticket prices include a Scoop of the Week and studio custom tasting. The tickets for the entire period was sold-out the day it was released!! It is located in the Meatpacking District , a block from the Whitney Museum of American Art.



The museum on the opening day offered free tickets to all from 11am until 3pm. I had read about it in the newspapers.  My cousin and niece were visiting. Since I was working, I told them that the museum would be an interesting place for them to visit. My daughter went along with them. Of course, when they arrived there the line was snaking around the block!! After waiting for almost 3 hours they were  sent away stating that the museum was filled to capacity! And this was at 12 pm, an hour after the museum opened! The girls started crying. When I came to know about this, the mother in me was enraged!! Why couldn't they have let them know about this when they stood on line?? Why after 3 hours? I mean when they saw the amount of people standing in line, they should be able to tell how many could fit in the museum!!

The enraged me took to social media to express my opinion!! I even sent Museum of Ice cream a message on Facebook complaining how ill planned their event was and how callous their behavior! And then I forgot about it.. My cousin, niece and the kids had a great weekend in the city exploring other places and they went back home.Now, some of you might say that it is my mistake to make them stand on the line and may be that I was hoping to get in for free.The fact is that i came to know about this event only when I saw the advertisement for the free day in the newspaper a couple of days before the event. When I did look for tickets, they were all sold out!! There was none available!! 

Anyways, on Sunday, I noticed that Manish Vora, the co-founder of the museum of ice cream had sent me a message on Saturday, apologizing for the inconvenience on the previous day. I responded back to him and he offered for the kids to come back any day that was convenient to me. He asked me to email him. Being that I was busy at work, I didn't get a chance to get back to him until last Thursday morning!! I asked him if I could bring the kids that day or some day this week! The man immediately responded to my email and asked me to pick a time that afternoon. I was amazed by his efficiency!! I am just a mother who works full time and has a food blog but I have such a harf time keeping up with my emails, Facebook messages, so and so forth with the social media! Compared to me, how busy must this man be, yet he manages to respond to my email and messages almost instantaneously!! I took a leaf from his book!




Anyways, I scrambled around with my appointments and made it to the museum on time that afternoon. As soon as I got off the cab at the front door of the museum, the nice young man standing there asked me if we were the 3:30 pm guests?? When I replied yes, he escorted me to the inside of the museum where a young lady gave us all a cup of home-made boysenberry ice-cream, which was the flavor of the week. While we were eating another lady narrated the history of Ice cream.



Once all the ice cream was done, they led us to the next room, where the lady was making and giving out sugar balloons which was extremely sticky and filled with helium!! The kids were enthralled.



I noticed that guests were let in only in small batches and the staff in each area ensured that it was not crowded. You could not go into the next area if there were already too many people there. The staff were well dressed in uniforms, polite and efficient.



Our next room was the "sundae" room where we got to help create the world's biggest sundae!! This was by scooping some fake Ice cream and piling on the huge cup. More anecdotes related to Ice cream were shared.




We were next shepherded to the "melting chocolate room", where the walls were melting chocolate and there was a huge bean bag on the floor where you could take in the aroma of melting dark chocolate. Dark chocolate by dove was heaped all around the place.





From there we went to the next area, which was by far the favorite of kids and adults alike!! The sprinkle pool!! There was a 3 feet pool with fake sprinkles, complete with a diving board and all! While the kids had a ball jumping and rolling in the pool, I saw adults act like kids too!! On the wall in this room, there was a spread of candy from Dylan's candy bar! You could eat as many candies as you wished! I had to be firm and tell my kids that they can only try two of each! It was amusing to watch  grown men  indulging in fistful of candies! This was one room where the ushers had to tell people that they only have a minute or two left to get out of the pool!! I had a hard time getting my kids out of the pool!!



The next area is  Dr. Irwin Adam’s studio, wherein a taste-bud/ taste change experiment  is conducted. 

They have us suck on couple of small pellets of something which is supposed to alter the taste in the mouth such that anything sour that you eat will taste sweet!!



So, once the pellets are completely melted, they give us a sample customized ice cream in a cone with lemon slices in it. While the ice cream was absolutely delicious, the taste of the lemon was interesting!



The last area is a play area where there is an Icecream sandwich swing, an Icecream scoop see-saw and a sprinkle mural wall.



As you leave, there is a small stall where you could purchase Icecream-related stuff.

As you leave they have everyone a 8oz bottle of Aquafina, water.

We spent a total of 2 hours there. If you don't have little children with you and are not wanting to take many pictures like us, you could tour the museum in one- one & half hour.

My kids had the time of their life. I have Manish Vora to thank for this. He didn't have to do this. There woul have been no consequences if he didn't take any action regarding my ranting and raving. What could a simpleton like me do?? But he chose to make two little kids happy and for that I shall remain forever grateful!!

If you ever have a chance to visit the museum, do so.. It will bring the child in you out!

I hope the museum comes back next year!

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