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Thai Basil Chicken (with vegetables)

Thai basil is different from the regular basil seen both look wise and flavour-wise. Thai basil has a sharp taste compared to the basil used in Italian cooking.

This is a quick and simple Thai recipe. Those who are regular visitors to this website will know that I try to make every recipe more nutritious especially when I don’t have time to make a separate vegetable dish. So here’s how you can make your favorite Thai Basil Chicken more nutritious- by adding seasonal vegetables and sesame seeds. You can add different vegetables like cabbage, green beans, carrots, broccoli, etc. Or if you have the time, you could make it the authentic way with just the basil leaves and serve stir-fry veggies on the side.

Here’s the recipe for Thai Basil Chicken (with vegetables):

Ingredients:

  • Chicken (thigh fillet): 250gms (cut into bite size pieces)
  • Scallion/shallot stem: 1 ( cut into 2″)
  • Mixed vegetables: 1 cup cut (like cabbage, broccoli, carrots, green beans, bell pepper)
  • Garlic: 5-6 large cloves (finely chopped)
  • Thai chili: 1-2nos. (slit lenthwise)
  • Oyster sauce: 1 tbsp
  • Light soy sauce: 2 tsp
  • Dark soy sauce : 2 tsp
  • Sesame seeds: 2 tsp (optional)
  • Salt: to taste (optional)
  • Oil :2 tbsp
  • Thai basil leaves: 1 cup loosely packed 

Method:


Malabar Spinach Tambuli (Basale Soppu Tambli)

Tambli/tambuli is a curd based dish typically made in Udupi/ Mangalore kitchens. It can be made with different green leafy vegetables (palak, curry leaves, etc) or even garlic. Since rice is the predominant grain in the traditional south Indian homes, this is served as a side to rice along with vegetables.

Basella or vine spinach is a popular tropical leafy-green vegetable, commonly grown as backyard herb in most home gardens in Mangalore. Fresh leaves are rich sources of several anti-oxidants such as ß-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin.
Its thick, fleshy leaves are an excellent source of non-starch polysaccharide, mucilage.

Basale Soppu/ Poi

Malabar spinach is rich in soluble fibre, Vitamins A & C,  iron, calcium, magnesium and potassium.This tambli made with Basale soppu/Malabar spinach is also believed to cure mouth ulcers.

Ingredients:

  • Malabar spinach or basale soppu: A big handful (washed and coarsely chopped)
  • Yogurt/curd: 1 cup fresh (not too sour)
  • Grated coconut: 1/2 cup (fresh/frozen)
  • Green chili: 1-2 nos. (optional)
  • Cumin seeds/Jeera: 1/2 tsp

For the tempering:

  • Mustard seeds: 1/4 tsp
  • Urad dal: 1/4 tsp
  • Red chili: 1/2
  • Curry leaves: a few
  • Oil/ghee: 1 tbsp

Method:

  1. Heat some oil in a frying pan and add the cumin seeds and green chili. When the cumin starts sizzling add the Malabar spinach leaves and saute till they are wilted. Keep aside to cool.
  2. Once cool, grind to a paste along with the coconut and  just enough water to make a paste in a blender/mixie.
  3. Transfer the paste to a bowl and add the yogurt and mix well. The consistency of the tambli should be thinner than chutney. So add enough water if it is too thick.
  4. Heat a little oil in a tadka pan, add the mustard seeds , urad dal and when it starts to pop add the dry red chili and curry leaves.
  5. Add this to the tambli and serve along with hot rice and vegetables.

Benefits of Fermented foods (Fluffy Idli Recipe)

Naturally fermented foods may help strengthen your gut microbiome which are basically the beneficial bacteria and microorganisms that live in your digestive tract. Gut microbes are now believed to be key to many aspects of human health including obesity, immune, metabolic and neuro-behavioural traits. Reseraches believe that fermented and probiotic foods are seen to improve immunity, aid in better digestion, prevention of allergies and also treating diarrhea.

One such naturally fermented food that is commonly made in most South Indian homes regularly are idlis and dosas. Who knew eating the humble idli (in moderation) could actually benefit your health?

Besides idli/dosa batter here are some of the other Indian foods that are fermented:

  • Curds/dahi/yogurt– a part of of a traditional meal in most Indian families, this contains live cultures.
  • Pickles
  • Gajar/Beetroot Kanji (North India): a drink made with fermented carrots/beetroot
  • Traditional Dhoklas (Gujrat) that are fermented and not instant
  • Traditional Handvo (Gujrat)-where the batter is let to ferment overnight
  • Fermented rice– called panta or poita bath(Assam, West Bengal,Tripura),  pazhaiya choru(Kerala), pazhaya saadam (Tamil Nadu) is basically the extra cooked rice soaked in water overnight during which it ferments, and is eaten in the morning with buttermilk and garnish of onions, green chilies etc.
  • Gundruk (Himalyan areas, Darjeeling, Sikkim): Fermented greens
  • Sinki (Himalyan areas, Uttarkhand, Sikkim): Fermented radish
  • Iromba( Manipur):  A dish made with fermented fish

Besides these there are many drinks/dishes that incorporate curds/buttermilk like kadhi, Rajasthani rabdi, Ragi ambli (Karnataka) and yeast fermented products like traditional naan and parottas.

Coming back to the humble idli,  what exactly happens when you ferment the idli batter?How does it become more nutritious?

During the fermentation process the carbohydrates get converted into simpler sugars that are easier to digest. This is one of main reasons that it is given to babies and those who are sick. It also increases the bioavailablity of many vitamins and minerals  such as iron, potassium and calcium and also increases the vitamin B content. It was seen that after 12 hours of fermentation of 100 grams of rice, the availability of iron changed from 3.4 mg to 73.91mg .

Unlike other fermented foods which still have the live cultures, the steaming process will kill the live cultures but it still makes the idli more nutritious than plain rice and dal.

Try making your own batter instead of buying store made ones. It’s easy, just follow this recipe:

Ingredients for Idli:

  • Idli (Par boiled) rice: 2 cups
  • Urad dal (skinless) : 1/2 cup 
  • Fenugreek seeds – 1/2 tsp 
  • Beaten rice (poha) – 1/3 cup
  • Salt : to taste

Method:

  1. Wash and soak  the urad dal (without skin), idli rice and fenugreek seeds in water for 6-7 hours. Soak poha for 1/2 hour before grinding.
  2. Grind the urad dal with enough cold water to make a smooth, fluffy paste. Keep aside.
  3. Grind the idli rice along with the poha with enough water till you get a smooth paste.
  4. Now mix the rice batter with the urad dal batter. Add salt (if the weather is cold, avoid adding salt if the weather is hot) and mix it well to aerate the batter with enough air to aid in fermentation.
  5. Let it ferment overnight (if it’s cold, you can keep it inside the oven with the light of the oven switched on).
  6. In the morning, mix the fermented batter well and grease the idli moulds.
  7. Boil water in a steamer, once water starts boiling,  pour the batter into the greased moulds.
  8. Steam for 10-12 minutes or until it is cooked.
  9. Serve with sambar and chutney.

Healthy Oats Pulav/ Upma (with Mixed Vegetables)

Oats are a rich source of both soluble and insoluble fibre and this makes it a great food for those trying to lower cholesterol. Besides fibre, oats is also loaded with magnesium, phosphorus, thiamine and zinc. So with such an impressive resume-why is it one of least popular grains especially among Indians?

Blame it on the mushy, gooey texture when cooked with liquids. Also, oats porridge by itself is so bland that you end up adding lots of sugar to make it palatable, thus making an otherwise healthy dish into a totally non-healthy dish. So, what is the solution? How can we use the oh-so-good oats and make a dish that is tasty, palatable and not mushy or gooey?

Here’s the answer: Oats upma Or Oats Pulav (the difference is in what you use for seasoning). For upma add a tadka of mustard seeds, jeera, channa dal, curry leaves while for the pulav add whole spices like cardamom, peppercorns, shahi jeera, cinnamon sticks and ginger+garlic paste.

Ingredients :

  • Rolled Oats – 1 cup
  •  Onion – 1 medium
  •  Green chilli – 1 slit lengthwise
  •  Ginger- 1 inch piece finely chopped
  • Mixed vegetables – 1 cup (mix of carrot, beans, peas, cauliflower)
  • Water- 3/4 cup
  • Peanuts: a handful
  • Turmeric: 1/4 tsp
  • Coriander leaves: 2 tbsp chopped(for garnish)
  • Lime juice: 2 tbsp
  • Salt: to taste

For the Tempering:

  •    Oil – 1 tbsp
  •    Mustard seeds -1 tsp
  •    Channa dal- 1/2 tsp
  •    Red chilli -1 broken
  •    Hing- a pinch
  •    Curry leaves-few

Method:

  1. Dry roast oats for a few minutes, until it becomes slightly hot to touch.
  2. Heat oil in a pan, add mustard seeds, when it splutters, add the rest of the ingredients for tempering and the turmeric.
  3. Then add finely chopped onions, peanuts, green chili, ginger and saute until onions turn translucent.
  4. Add all the vegetables,salt and saute for a few more minutes, then add 3/4 cup of water and salt required.
  5. When the  water starts boiling, lower the flame add the roasted oats, cover and cook till done.
  6. Switch off and garnish with coriander.
  7. Serve hot with a dash of lime. You can also serve chutney with it.

Here are some healthy chutney recipes:


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Crispy Chicken Cutlets-Indian Style (Low Carb, High Protein Recipe, Gluten free)

Here’s a High Protein, Low-carb recipe of Chicken cutlets with no potatoes. To make it crispy and still keep it low-carb, I have used Psyllium husk to coat the cutlets before frying.

Now psyllium husk is a commonly known as Isabgol in India. It has been used for ages to treat constipation. It is now becoming popular as a low carb addition to foods.

Ingredients for Crispy Chicken Cutlets:

  • Chicken mince: 400gms
  • Onions: 1 medium (finely diced)
  • Green chilies: 2 (finely chopped)
  • Coriander leaves: 5 tbsp (finely chopped)
  • Mint leaves: 8-10(finely chopped)
  • Ginger+Garlic Paste: 1.5 tsp
  • Mashed cauliflower: 1/2 cup
  • Roasted gram flour(Besan): 2-3  tbsp
  • Melted butter/ghee: 1 tbsp
  • Psyllium husk(Isabgol): 1/2-1  cup for coating
  • Salt: to taste
  • Oil: for pan frying

Method:

  1. Mix all the ingredients together well and keep it in the fridge for 1/2-1hr.
  2. Heat a little oil in a pan, make a ball of the mixture, then flatten it into a patti shape.
  3. Roll it in the psyllium husk and place in the pan one by one.
  4. Turn them over and let them cook till the outside becomes golden brown in colour.
  5. Take them out and serve hot with coriander chutney.

Note: 

These can also be frozen after frying and can be used later as such or as a filling inside wraps/ sandwiches/burgers.

 

 

 

 

 


Appe with Mixed vegetables(Paddu/ Guliyappa/ Paniyaram/Gundponglu)

Appe is a common breakfast dish in Mangalore. It’s also popular in the other Southern states and is called Paadu/Guliyappa in Karnataka, Paniyaram in Tamil Nadu, Gundponglu in AP and Telengana. And called ‘dosa in a ball’ by my daughter!

It’s made with the dosa batter in a special ‘appe pan’ which has 5-7 or more round holes. The batter is poured into these holes and the resulting appe is almost round like a ball.

Appe, Paddu, Paniyaram pan

Here’s a healthier version of the recipe in which I have added sauteed mixed veggies into the batter to make it more nutritious and can be packed and taken for lunch :

Ingredients for the Batter:
  • Idly Rice: 3/4 cup
  •  Raw Rice: 1/4 cup
  • Urad Dal: 1/2 cup
  • Fenugreek seeds: 1/2 tsp

Other Ingredients: 

  • Carrots: 1 medium (finely diced)
  • Green Beans: 1/2 cup
  • Peas: 1/2 cup
  • Green Chilli: 1 finely chopped (optional)
  • Curry leaves: 10-15 nos., finely chopped
  • Onion: 1 medium, finely chopped
  •  Salt: to taste
  • Coriander leaves: 3 tbsp, finely chopped
  • Oil/ghee/butter
Method:
  1. Wash the idly rice, raw rice, fenugreek seeds and whole urad dal then soak for 6-8 hours.
  2. Grind the soaked mixture with enough water to get a smooth batter.
  3. Transfer the ground batter to a clean vessel and cover it and let it ferment in a warm place overnight.
  4. Heat oil in a pan and add the curry leaves, onions green chili(optional) .
  5. Saute till the onions are soft. Add the chopped veggies and the coriander leaves and sautee till the veggies are cooked. Add the salt. Remove from heat and set aside to cool
  6. Add this mixture when cool to the batter and mix well.
  7. Heat the appe pan till its really hot(test by sprinkling water-it should sizzle). Add a little oil/ butter/ ghee into each mold. Drop the batter to fill the mold. Cover and cook for a minute. Then turn and cook on the other side till its golden in colour.
  8. The appe should be crispy and golden on both sides.
  9. Serve hot with chutney.

 

 

 

 


Beetroot and Carrot Salad

Beetroots and beet greens are loaded with vitamins and minerals that fight inflammation, lower blood pressure , boost the strength and endurance and also detoxify.

Here is a simple way to incorporate it with your meals:

    • Beetroot: 2 nos. (peeled and cut into matchsticks)
    • Carrots: 1 big (peeled and cut into matchsticks)
    • Shallots: 2 (finely chopped)
    • Olive oil: 2 tbsp
    • Red wine vinegar: 2 tbsp
    • Green chili: 1 slit (optional)
  • Cilantro/Coriander leaves: 3 tbsp roughly chopped
  • Salt: to taste

Method:

Mix all the ingredients in a big salad bowl and toss well. Leave it to marinate for at least half an hour in the fridge. Serve chilled.

Note: The carotenes of beetroot will turn your urine and stools pink in colour which is normal.

Other Beetroot recipes:

  1. Beetroot Mocktail/ Juice: Click for recipe here
  2. Beetroot Upkari(a simple Mangalorean style stir-fry): Click for recipe here
  3. Beetroot leaves dal: Click here for Recipe

How To Eat Sensibly through the festive season.

They say that someone once asked Lord Buddha “What is POISON“? His answer was simple-“Every Thing EXCESS In Life Is Poison”!!! 
Words of wisdom which holds good even today. Excess of even the good things in life can bring with it,it’s own set of problems! This is true even with festive food these days. 
Sometime back I remember discussing our change in food habits and the increasing problem of obesity and other health problems that India (and Indians all over the world) are now facing, and a friends father’s put it nicely as “Hamare zamaane mein Diwali saal mein ek baar manayi jaati thi. Aaj kal tho log Diwali roz manate hein!! Translated into English, “In our time, Diwali (the main festival for Hindus) used to be celebrated once a year and we would indulge ourselves on sweets and other festive food. These days it’s like Diwali  is celebrated daily as people eat sweets and other high-calorie food on a regular basis”. 
With Indians being able to spend more on food, waiting for a festival to gorge on sweets doesn’t seem to be worth it anymore. No surprises that India is not only seeing an obesity epidemic but will also soon be crowned the “Diabetes capital of the World“!!
Most Indians find it difficult to eat sensibly right from October till January. Navarathri(which generally falls sometime in October) usually heralds the start of the festive binging, then comes Diwali in October/November, Christmas in December and then finally New Year!

For Indians living outside India,-there’s also Halloween and Thanksgiving around the same time to deal with. To top it all, the cold winter months brings on food cravings.With so much tempting reasons for festive food, how does one stay on track with healthy eating?

Here are some tips:
  1. Don’t skip out on your exercise during these months.
  2. Enjoy the festive food, but stick to portion sizes.
  3. Try to have a small snack, soup, sandwich, yogurt and fruits before leaving for a party-that way you won’t be very hungry when you arrive at the party.
  4. While planning a dinner/party during the festive season, try not to put all the festive food (read: pooris, mixtures/chivda/farsaan, parathas, pakodas, biryani’s,jelebis,gulab jamuns) on the menu at the same time. Choose two or three items and then balance it out with healthy food.
  5. Include salads/raitas and fresh fruits in the menu.
  6. Serve fresh juices instead of soda/aerated drinks.
  7. Instead of gifting your friends and relatives sweets or chocolates, think healthy and gift them with exotic fresh fruits, fruit bouquets, dry fruits and nuts, gourmet coffees/teas or even some herbal spa products or a spice/flowering plant.

   The idea of celebrating a festival should not be centered on overeating festive food but getting into the spirit of the festival. Eating smart or sensibly through these months will  ensure that you don’t end up with health problems in the New Year.
Here’s wishing a Happy, HEALTHY and Prosperous Diwali to all !!


Beetroot Leaves Dal

Do you throw out the Beetroot leaves? STOP!!! 

Don’t just cut off the green leafy tops and toss them away! The leaves and the stems are edible, and make a great substitute for any green such as palak, swiss chard, collard greens, bok choy. They  can be added to dals/sambars, soups or added to sabzis.

Beetroot leaves 

The best part of buying beetroot with the leaves-you can make two dishes for the price of one!! Other leaves that are edible and should not be thrown out:

  1. Radish leaves: Click here for Radish sabzi with leaves
  2. Turnip Leaves: Click here for Turnip leaves sabzi(Sri Lankan style)

Here is a simple dal with the beetroot leaves. (Note:The stems (like the beetroot) have a natural pink dye that can turn the dal slightly pink).

Ingredients for Beetroot leaves dal: Serves 4-5
  • 1 cup toor dal/arhar dal
  • 2.5 cups water
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 teaspoons oil/ ghee
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 1-2 green chili, slit
  • 1/4 teaspoon garam masala powder
  • 1/2 -1 tsp red chili powder (optional)
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder (optional)
  • salt, to taste
  • 1-2 teaspoon lemon juice

Method:

  1. To a pressure cooker add the washed toor dal, add 2.5 cups water,  and 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder. Cook at high flame for 3 whistles. Let the pressure of the cooker come off on it’s own. Then mash well.
  2. Heat oil in a pan on medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add cumin seeds and mustard seeds. Wait till cumin seeds crackle and mustard seeds start popping out.
  3. Once the seeds start popping, add chopped garlic and green chili. Saute for a minute or till garlic just starts turning golden brown in color.
  4. Add chopped tomatoes, salt and cook for 5 minutes.
  5. Add chopped beetroot leaves and mix. Cook for 2-3 minutes or till the leaves are wilted.
  6. Add the mashed dal to the pan, a cup of water , the red chili powder and coriander powder (both optional, but I like to have the extra spice)and let it all come to a boil. Lower the heat, add more water if needed and let the dal simmer for 5 minutes.
  7. Check the salt and adjust to taste. Sprinkle garam on top and remove pan from heat.
  8. Squeeze in some fresh lemon juice and serve beetroot leaves dal with any hot rotis or steamed rice.

Other Beetroot recipes:

  1. Beetroot Mocktail/ Juice: Click for recipe here
  2. Beetroot Upkari(a simple Mangalorean style stir-fry): Click for recipe here
  3. Beetroot and Carrot Salad: Click here for recipe