Category Archives: Online Dietician India

Spicy Peanut-Garlic Chutney Powder

This is one of my husband’s favourite chutney’s and he just cannot stop sprinkling it over everything and anything! I had never tasted it (forget even making it) before I got married and had only heard about it from him(my MIL apparently would always have a batch of it in the house).
My family used more of coconut(milk/paste,etc) for our cooking as we are originally from a small coastal town in South India (Mangalore to be specific, for those who are familiar with India and Indian towns), whereas my hubby’s family is more familiar to using peanuts in their cooking.
He sort of knew what ingredients his mom used for making it and asked me to try it. I tried making it a couple of times and every time he found something wrong with it-it was either not “garlicky enough”(even when I had added 10 garlic cloves!!) or “too pasty”. Finally, fed-up with these comments,I decided to call up my MIL(why didn’t I ever think of it before???? Silly me!!) and ask her how she makes it-that’s when she told me my mistakes:

  • use about 3-4 raw garlic cloves (I used to saute them in a little oil) to get the “garlicky” taste,
  • and use a handful of roasted bengal gram dal(roasted and puffed split chickpeas) which not only adds to the taste but also absorbs the oil from the peanuts (and the moisture from the raw garlic) and hence the result is a “powder”chutney and not a “pasty” chutney!

Over the years,I’ve not only perfected the art of making this chutney powder,but also added my own “healthy” ingredient-flaxseeds!
Ingredients for Peanut Chutney Powder:

  • Roasted peanuts: 1 cup(skinned)
  • Roasted gram dal: 1/2 cup
  • Garlic: 2-3 cloves
  • Flax seed : 1 tablespoon (optional)
  • Turmeric: 1/4th teaspoon
  • Red chilli powder: 1 teaspoon(add more if you want it spicier)
  • Salt: to taste

Method:

  1. Powder all the ingredients together to get a coarse chutney.
  2. Transfer to an air-tight container and store in the fridge(should keep for about 2 weeks or maybe even more).

You can use it as a chutney or sprinkle a little on noodles/fried rice/salads or mix it with a little yogurt and use as a dip or as a filling inside sandwiches.


Baked Sweet Potato Snack

There are different varieties of sweet potatoes available: purple and orange coloured. The purple colour is due to a pigment called anthocyanins and the  orange-colored sweet potatoes owe their colour to beta-carotenes which gets converted to Vitamin A in the body. The best way to get the health benefits of these are by either steaming or baking them.

If you like fries and sweet potatoes-here’s a healthy snack that look like fries but are actually baked. Kids will love the sweet taste of the sweet potatoes while adults can sprinkle it with a little chili powder for that extra kick!

Ingredients for Baked Sweet Potato Snack:

Sweet Potatoes-2 big* (washed,scraped and cut into strips/wedges)

Salt: 1 tsp (or to taste)

Oil: 3tsp

Red chili powder: 1/2-1 tsp (optional)

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 200ºC (400ºF).
  2. Put all the ingredients into a mixing bowl and toss till the sweet potatoes are coated.
  3. Spread out onto a baking tray in a single layer.
  4. Bake till they turn golden (about 30-40 minutes).
  5. Serve as a snack or as a side with your meals.

*Note: 

  • You don’t have to scrape the sweet potatoes if you scrub them well with a brush.
  • Sweet Potatoes can be substituted with other root vegetables like beetroot, carrots, parsnip or turnips.
  • You can experiment with spices & herbs like garlic powder, cumin powder,rosemary, Italian seasoning, etc.

Here are other Healthy Snack Ideas:

  1. Crispy Kale Chips
  2. Baked Carrot Fries/snack
  3. Fruit Chaat/ Fruit Salsa 
  4. Khaman Dhokla
  5. Handvo
  6. Fish Cutlets/Patties

 

 


Pumpkin and bhindi/ladiesfinger sambar (Palakkad style)

We had this awesome sambar at a friends place during the Diwali weekend. It was made by my friend’s mother and she had used pumpkin and ladiesfinger/okra for the sambar. The family has it’s roots in Palakkad,a town on the border of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Being Palakkad Iyers their cuisine is a unique blend of the cooking styles from both the states (Kerala and Tamil Nadu).
I’ve always used the popular ready-made sambar powder to date and had never made the sambar from scratch(roasting and grinding the masalas). I had to get the recipe and it turned out so well that I’ve decided to make sambar the ‘hard-way’ instead of taking the ‘easy way’ out henceforth.
This sambar is typically made with any two of these seasonal vegetables: ladiesfinger/okra, arabi/taro root, pumpkin, capsicum and drumstick.
Here’s the recipe as given by Ms Sarda Ramakrishnan:

Pumpkin Sambar Palakkad
Ingredients for Palakkad Sambar: (Serves 8)

  • Coriander seeds: 2tbsp
  • Fenugreek seeds:1 tbsp
  • Channa dal: 1 tbsp
  • Dry red chillies: 5
  • Tamarind pulp: walnut sized (soak in water and squeeze out the pulp),
  • Tur dal: 2 cups (finely mashed)
  • Fresh coconut: 1/2 cup grated
  • Pumpkin: 1 cup (cut into 1 and 1/2″ pieces)
  • Ladiesfinger/Okra: 1 cup (cut into 1 and 1/2″ pieces)
  • Hing/asafoetida: 1/2tsp
  • Salt: to taste

For the tempering:

  • Mustard seeds: 1tsp
  • Curry leaves:5-6 nos.
  • Oil: 2tsp

Method:

  1. Roast the coriander seeds,fenugreek seeds,channa dal and the red chillies in a pan till the fenugreek and channa dal start turning red.
  2. Let it cool and then grind to a fine paste along with the grated coconut.
  3. Cook the pumkin and okra pieces in the tamarind pulp along with salt and enough water till the vegetables are half cooked.
  4. Add the cooked tur dal and the ground masala paste to the vegetables. Add enough water to bring it to a sambar consistency.
  5. Bring the sambar to a boil and add the hing powder.
  6. In a separate pan,heat the oil and add the mustard seeds. When it starts to sputter,add the curry leaves.
  7. Pour this tempering over the sambar.
  8. Serve hot with rice.

Mangalore Cucumber and Moong Sprouts Gassi (curry)-Mangalorean Style

Another favorite Mangalorean dish-the sprouted moong/mung and Mangalore cucumber ghassi. Gassi is the Mangalorean term for ‘curry’ or gravy. The Mangalore cucumber is also called the ‘Malabar Cucumber’ is a commonly seen vegetable in South India.

Mangalore cucumber Gassi
Ingredients for Mangalore Cucumber and Moong Sprouts Gassi : 

  • Mangalore Cucumber: 1 medium size
  • Moong Sprouts:200gms
  • Tomato: 1 big or 2 small (chopped)
  • Coconut: 1/2 or 1 cup grated
  • Red chilli powder: 4-5tsp(add more/less according to your tolerance level)
  • Coriander powder: 3tsp
  • Cumin powder: 1/2tsp
  • Salt: to taste

Tempering:

  • Mustard seeds: 1 tsp
  • Cumin /Jeera seeds: 1tsp
  • Turmeric:1/4th tsp
  • Urad dal: 1/2 tsp
  • Curry leaves: 8-10nos.
  • Garlic: 2-3 crushed

Method:

  1. Wash and cut the Mangalore cucumber into half-scoop out the seeds from the centre(check if it’s bitter, if bitter than make sure you scrape out all the seeds and fibre around it).
  2. Cut them into 1″ cubes. Take a saucepan and cook them along with the sprouts with enough water and a little salt.Cover and cook till the Mangalore cucumber almost turns translucent (or is almost cooked),then add the chopped tomatoes and cook till the tomatoes are soft.
  3. In the meanwhile, grind the coconut with the red chilli powder, coriander and cumin/jeera powder to a fine paste.
  4. Add the coconut paste to the saucepan, mix well, test for salt and cook for about 6-8mins.
  5. Switch off.
  6. Take a smaller saucepan/tempering pan and heat the oil, add the mustard,jeera and urad dal. When the mustard starts to sputter, add the turmeric, curry leaves and then the crushed garlic.
  7. Add the tempering to the ghassi. Close the saucepan immediately.
  8. Serve the Mangalore Cucumber and Moong sprouts ghassi with rice and a side dish/chutney.

Kothu Phulka (HEALTHY version of Kothu Parotta)

Traditionally in Tamil Nadu, ‘Kothu Paratha’ is made from ‘parotta’ or the South Indian ‘paratha’ which is a layered paratha made with loads of oil and maida. I did try it out once with frozen Kerala Parotta’s (available in all Indian stores) and I admit that it is sinfully delicious!
The tasty Kothu Parotta never became a regular feature as obviously I had my reservations of using the frozen ‘maida’ (refined flour) oily parotta’s.

Yesterday, I had 3 leftover phulkas (roti’s made whithout oil) from lunch and with it came the idea of the ‘healthy version of the Kothu paratha/ parotta’!! This I have renamed as “Kothu Phulka” !
Kothu Paratha’s are made by tearing up the cooked paratha and then cooking it in a gravy of either meat, chicken or egg. The kothu phulka that I made is with egg. Vegetarians/vegans can omit the egg and make it with just the onion+tomato gravy or replace the egg with tofu. Here are the ingredients for the ‘healthy version of the Kothu Paratha(the Kothu Phulka):

Kothu Parotta Healthy
Ingredients for Kothu Phulka: (Serves 2)

  • Phulkas/whole wheat tortillas: 3-4 nos. ( broken into 1″ pieces)
  • Eggs: 3 nos. (can be substituted with 200gms tofu/paneer or chicken)
  • Red onion: 1 medium or 1/2big (chopped fine)
  • Tomatoes: 2 medium (chopped fine)
  • Green chillies: 1-2nos. slit in half (use more or less according to your spice tolerance)
  • Cilantro/Coriander leaves: 2-3 tbsp (finely chopped)
  •  Red chilli powder: 1-2tsp(again according to your spice tolerance)
  • Coriander powder: 1tsp
  • Salt: to taste

Tempering:

  • Mustard seeds: 1 tsp
  • Cumin/jeera: 1tsp
  • Curry leaves: 8-10nos.
  • Turmeric: 1/4th tsp
  • Oil: 1 tsp

Method:

  1. Heat the oil in a pan, add the mustard and cumin seeds and when it starts popping add the curry leaves.
  2. Then add the turmeric powder,chopped onions, the green chillies and salt and fry till the onions become translucent.
  3. Add the chopped tomatoes, red chilli powder and the coriander powder and stir till the tomatoes are cooked.
  4. Add the eggs/tofu and mix well. Keep stirring on a low flame till the eggs are almost cooked but not too dry. Test for salt.
  5. Now add the phulka/tortilla pieces and mix well such that the egg/tofu mixture coats all the phulka pieces.
  6. Garnish with lots of cilantro and serve the ‘Kothu Phulka’ piping hot.

For those who want to avoid the egg/tofu-add the phulka pieces directly after the tomatoes are cooked (point 4).
Enjoy this healthy version of the “kothu Paratha” at lunch/dinner, breakfast or even for a Sunday brunch !
It also makes a good lunch box recipe!

Sweta Uchil-Purohit

Online Dietitian India

 


Dry Bhindi Sabzi (Spiced Okra recipe-Indian Style)

Do your kids turn their nose up at the mention of ladiesfinger/Okra/bhindi? Try out this tasty and easy recipe of dry bhindi sabji (Dry okra recipe) and watch them gobble it all up. This recipe is something I learnt from my friend Rohini’s mom, Meghana Ghatpande. Meghana aunty-thanks a ton for making this one of the kids favorite recipes 🙂
Okra is rich in both soluble and insoluble fibers which may help in lowering cholesterol, aid in digestion and also have folate and vitamin K along with Vitamin A, B&C.
Ladiesfinger Sabzi
Ladiesfinger Sabzi with Phulkas
Ingredients for the dry bhindi sabzi:
  • Okra/ladies finger/bhindi: 250gms
  • Cumin powder: 1tsp
  • Chilly powder: 1/4th tsp (optional)
  • Lemon: a dash
  • Cilantro/Coriander leaves: 1-2tbsp chopped(for garnish)
  • Salt: to taste
  • Oil: 1tbsp

Method:

  1. Wash, pat dry and cut the okra.
  2. Heat the oil in a non-stick pan and add the okra slices.
  3. Stir occasionally till the okra is almost done (the slimy part goes away) .
  4. Add the cumin powder , salt and/or red chilly powder and mix well.
  5. Stir fry till done.
  6. Switch off. Squeeze a dash of lime and garnish with cilantro.
  7. Serve the dry bhindi sabzi as a side with rice and dal or with phulkas.

Dal Makhani (low-cal version)

Pulses are a great source of protein. This means they can be particularly important for people who don’t get protein by eating meat, fish or dairy products. Pulses are a good source of iron.Pulses are also a starchy food and add fibre to your meal. Eating a diet high in fibre is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease and Type 2 Diabetes.

Nothing beats eating dal makhani (with the oodles of butter and cream) with hot rice or chapathis or even naan. We always ate it in restaurants as I had no clue how to make it.I had to try out an alternative way which didn’t have so much butter or cream so that we could enjoy it regularly instead of eating it once in a way. The “better-half” warned that if it doesn’t taste like the restaurant stuff,he wasn’t going to touch it(so much for a supportive husband!).Anyway,I substituted the cream and butter with low-fat milk . I must warn you here-it takes me a good 2 hours to make this dish,but it’s worth the effort every time.Suffice to say that it was eaten by the fussy hubby and it’s been added to his list of dishes that turns out well even without the extra fat!

Some call it Dal Makhani, some say this is Maa ki dal. Well, what’s in a name-it still tastes great 🙂
Here’s the recipe:
Ingredients for Dal Makhani (low-calorie version):

  • Whole urad (black matpe beans): 1 cup(soaked overnight)
  • Split bengal gram dal: 1 tablespoon OR 1/2 cup red beans(soaked overnight)
  • Tomatoes: 3 nos.(pureed)
  • Onion: 1/2 medium (preferably red onions),finely chopped
  • Garlic: 2 flakes (finely chopped)
  • Green chilies or 2 nos(slit lengthwise)
  • Low fat milk: 1 and 1/2 cups
  • Red chilly powder: 1 or 2 teaspoon(according to taste)
  • Coriander/cilantro leaves-2 tablespoon
  • Curd: 1 tablespoon (whipped)
  • Sugar: 1 teaspoon (optional)
  • Salt: to taste

Method:

  1. Discard the water used for soaking the beans/dal overnight.
  2. Put 6 cups of water into a pressure cooker and add Urad,split gram(or red beans),chopped onion,garlic.Cook till one whistle then let it cook on a low flame for about half an hour.( If you don’t have a pressure cooker,cook in a closed saucepan for at least 40-45 minutes).
  3. After half an hour,switch off and let the pressure drop.Then,open and add the tomato puree and the slit green chilies.Cook, stirring occasionally for 20 mins on reduced flame.
  4. Add the milk and cook for 8-10 mins.
  5. Add the red chilly powder,sugar(optional) and salt. Let it cook on low flame for a further 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Garnish with chopped cilantro/coriander leaves and whipped curd.

Question:Which is your favourite high-cal dish that you would love to have in a low-cal version?


Ragi Manni/ pudding (Nachni/finger millet porridge) Mangalorean Style

Ragi (English-Finger millet,Chinese-䅟子,Arabic- Tailabon, German-Fingerhirse, French-coracan) is a popular millet in Southern India and is made into different dishes like porridges, puddings, pancakes,cookies, etc. Nutritionally,it is rich in the amino acid methionine and is among the few grains which contains a considerable amount of calcium.
Ragi is also given to babies as one of first cereals after rice.My grandmother used to make ragi manni during summer, as it is believed in Ayurveda to cool the body.Traditionally it is made by soaking the ragi millet overnight in water,then grinding it to a fine paste and straining it in a cheesecloth.This is then cooked with jaggery and coconut milk,till it reaches a thick pasty consistency.It is then poured into huge plates and set aside to cool. The end product used to be simply amazing-a dark chocolate brown pudding(my gran used to tell me that it was Indian chocolate pudding,so that she could get me to eat it)that simply melted in the mouth.
Sadly,I could not find ragi millet here(not that I would have gone through the whole cumbersome process even if I had),but managed to get the ragi flour at the Indian store to make this instant version. I substituted milk for the coconut milk and the final product still was very tasty though it didn’t have the same rich dark brown colour.Also,since it’s not strained you can see brown specks of the ragi coat. The ragi manni/pudding can be eaten hot or cold(I love it cold)and had as a porridge for breakfast or served as a dessert or a healthy snack(if you can mange to control the portion size) for kids.
Ingredients for Ragi Manni :Serves 2

  • Ragi flour: 1 cup
  • Milk/Coconut milk: 2 cups
  • Jaggery: 1 cup (scraped): to taste
  • Cardamom powder: 1/4 teaspoon
  • Salt: a pinch

Method:

  1. Mix the ragi flour with the cold milk and make sure there are no lumps.
  2. Pour this into a saucepan and add the jaggery/sugar,salt and cardamom powder.
  3. Cook on medium heat stirring continuously(take care to see that it doesn’t form lumps).
  4. When the mixture starts to thicken, reduce the heat and keep stirring till you get a porridge like consistency.
  5. Remove from heat.
  6. Serve the ragi manni (finger millet pudding) warm or chilled.

Note:

  • You can substitute sugar for the jaggery, though it is more nutritious to use jaggery.
  • Adding a pinch of salt is supposed to make the dish sweeter (not sure if that’s really true).

Question: Do you feel that adding a pinch of salt to a sweet dish makes it sweeter or is it just an old wives tale?


Healthy Heart Diet for Indians

The World Heart Day is on the 29th of September. A Heart Healthy Diet is not designed only for those who have problems related to the heart (high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart attack, etc), but also for those who would like to reduce the risk of heart diseases in the future. Following a Heart -healthy diet can be beneficial for all, especially since research shows that Indians are genetically predisposed to heart disease. Low physical activity, low vegetable intakes along with high fat intake has added to our problems due to which obesity and diabetes are now common among Indians.
A heart friendly diet should be:
1. High in fiber-studies have shown that a diet high in fiber helps in reducing cholesterol. Include whole grains (brown rice, whole wheat atta, ragi, jowar, bajra, whole wheat bread/pasta) and pulses, fresh fruits, vegetables and green leafy vegetables.
2. Low in saturated and trans fat– a diet low in fat, especially trans-fat (dalda/vanaspati, margarine,) is shown to be beneficial. Non-vegetarians can choose from lean meat like chicken and fish (especially those high in Omega-3 fatty acids like Indian Mackerel, sardines, salmon)

3. High in Omega-3 Fatty Acids– a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids is seen to benefit those who are at high risk for ischemic heart disease (IHD). It is essential for numerous normal body functions like building cell membranes in the brain and controlling blood clotting. Fish, walnuts, flax seeds, soy beans, spinach/palak should be included see the benefits.
4. Low in sodium-sodium is known to increase the BP and put more pressure on the internal organs including the heart. The RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) for salt is less than a teaspoon/day.
5. Rich in Antioxidants: Found in coloured fruits, vegetables and grains, antioxidants are believed to help prevent disease by fighting free radicals which are substances that harm the body when left unchecked.

6.Rich in Fermented foods: Fermented foods contain ‘probiotics’ or in other words ‘live bacteria’ and yeasts that are thought to have health benefits.  desi ferThe most commonly used fermented food in Indian houses is curd/yogurt/dahi, lassi, chaas/buttermilk.  Check nutrition labels carefully for added sugars, thickeners and other additives that are used commercially and remember that fermented foods should be ‘live’ so need to be kept in the fridge. Heat treatment that may be used to preserve or cook these foods destroys probiotics.

Along side a healthy diet, being physically active is also very important. Speak to your doctor and then choose an activity or exercise that you can do for at least 30 minutes every day.

Here’s a sample Indian diet for healthy heart:

On rising: Water + Walnuts
Breakfast: Oats porridge (old fashioned/steel cut/rolled oats NOT Instant)+ Blueberries
Mid-morning: Green tea + Apple
Lunch: Brown rice + Palak dal curry+ Cabbage and pea’s sabzi
Cucumber and tomato salad+ Buttermilk/chaas (made from skimmed milk)
Evening: Tea/ Coffee with Channa chaat
Dinner: Paushtik Roti (with flax seed powder) + Baingan ka bharta + Fish curry
Carrot raita(made with non-fat curd) + Red grapes
(NOTE:Portion control is very important. To find out the right portion sizes, do contact your dietitian.)
Prevention is always better than cure and this is true even for the matters of the heart! Why wait for heart problems to crop up and then change your diet? By eating healthy now, you may be able to prevent/avoid heart diseases in the future.

For those interested in getting a personalized diet chart-check out the Healthy Heart Packages or simply fill out the ‘Contact Us’ page


Tandoori Fish

Fish is a low-fat high quality protein. Fish is filled with omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins such as D and B2 (riboflavin). Fish is rich in calcium and phosphorus and a great source of minerals, such as iron, zinc, iodine, magnesium, and potassium.When buying fish keep in mind “SMASH”: Salmon, Mackerel, Anchovies, Sardines, and Herring.

Why these fish in particular? These fish are rich in omega 3 fatty acid and they are also low in organic mercury.

Here’s a list of fish that are HIGH in Omega-3’s:
Bass(striped); Herring; Mackerel, Oysters(Pacific); Sablefish(also called black cod);Salmon; Trout(freshwater).
The tandoori masala and the marination seem to camouflage the smell and the result is very tasty too!!You can pick up tandoori masala at any Indian store and if you are a little wary of the ‘red color’ you could opt for the organic version(with no added colors) or make it from scratch with garam masala, ginger-garlic paste,paprika, pepper powder and salt ( I’m not familiar with the actual proportions for each,it’s usually trial and error when I make it). Tandoori Fish when baked or grilled is a healthy way of serving fish. Here are the ingredients for the ‘tandoori fish’:

Tandoori Fish
Ingredients for Tandoori Fish:

  • Fish steaks/fillets (halibut/tilapia/tuna/salmon): 4nos.
  • Tandoori masala: 1-2 tablespoon (use less for milder taste or more if you want it spicier)
  • Yogurt: 2 tablespoon
  • Vinegar: 1tsp
  • Lemon : 1/2
  • Onion : 1/2 medium (chopped into rings)

Method:

  1. Wash the fish well (traditionally fish in India is washed in water,then some tumeric and lemon juice is applied to the pieces and kept for 1/2 an hour,and then washed off again).
  2. Mix the tandoori masala, yogurt and vinegar and taste for salt. If required,add a little salt.
  3. Coat the fish with the tandoori masala and let it marinate in the fridge for a couple of hours.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes or you could also shallow fry it in a pan till done.
  5. Squeeze some lime juice over it just before serving.
  6. Serve the tandoori fish with some lemon wedges and some onion rings.