Archives: Recipes

Cherry Compote Yogurt Parfait with Granola

Cherry Compote Yogurt Parfait with Granola

Easy to make, delicious Cherry Compote Yogurt Parfait with Granola. Yogurt layered with cherries, granola or nuts, cocoa powder and homemade cherry compote to top the yogurt.

Easy Homemade Cherry Compote

Easy Homemade Cherry Compote

Easy Homemade Cherry Compote of fresh dark red cherries flavoured with cinnamon and vanilla. Add some to ice cream and parfaits, drizzle on desserts or pancakes, make a sandwich!

Brown Rice Salad with Roasted Tomatoes and Asparagus

Brown Rice Salad with Roasted Tomatoes and Asparagus

Rice based salads make a great summer’s day lunch: easy to put together, refreshing and and nutritious. And not just summer, its warming on a chill winter evening and just right when its pouring with rain. The Brown Rice Salad with Roasted Tomatoes and Asparagus that I made last week was delicious and everyone at home loved it. It is a versatile salad and you could make it with vegetables of your choice. I like to add roasted tomatoes to salads as the roasting brings out the flavours of the tomatoes. A few spears of asparagus roasted with the tomatoes, added colour and texture to the Salad.

Brown Rice Salad with Roasted Tomatoes and Asparagus
Brown Rice Salad with Roasted Tomatoes and Asparagus

Rice is now becoming my go to for a robust and healthy meal without too much effort to make and I have been experimenting with different types of rice. You will be seeing the results of these experiments in the Healthy Rice Salad series that I’m now writing, the Brown Rice Salad with Roasted Tomatoes and Asparagus being the first one in the series. Actually it is the second, as I have this recipe for a really gorgeous Black Rice Salad with Cranberry & Orange Dressing, elsewhere on the blog. This is the link to the recipe Black Rice Salad if you want to check it out.

In my bid to reduce weight and to manage sugar levels, I have greatly reduced my intake of rice – from twice a day to once or twice a week. And instead of the regular white rice which was part of my diet for so many decades, even the occasional rice dish that I make is with brown or black rice. Brown rice gives itself easily to the flavours of the vegetables that you add to them, without overpowering the other flavours with their personality.

How to cook Brown Rice?

Brown rice takes more time to be cooked than white rice. It has to be cooked correctly so that the grains are soft and yet separate without becoming a gooey mush. My daughter Lakshmi whom I am presently visiting at Connecticut, USA, suggested that I spread the hot cooked rice on a plate so that it cools down before being added to the salad, and the grains don’t get sticky and clumped together. I prefer long grained brown rice as they cook well into separate grains. Soaking the grain before cooking reduces cooking time and also improves the nutritional values. I soak the rice for about 45 minutes before cooking it, and then allow it to cook for about 30 minutes till it is just done without being soggy and all the water has been absorbed. More details are given in the recipe below.

Long grained brown rice is better for salads as short grained ones get more mushy. Cooking times and methods below are for long grained rice. Cooking times also assume that the tomatoes are roasted at the same time that the rice is cooking.

Health Benefits in Brown Rice Salad with Roasted Tomatoes and Asparagus

This Salad is almost bursting with both taste and nutrition.

Brown Rice itself is an unpolished rice grain and therefore holds the nutritious benefits of rice which we lose to a significant extent with the milled polished white version which looks so good on our tables. It helps reduce obesity and contains manganese which helps to synthesise body fats. Brown rice contains antioxidant enzymes which helps to increase HDL cholesterol (the ‘good’ cholesterol). It has a high fibre content as well as contains various essential minerals as well as important vitamins and proteins. It is rich in folate which is required by pregnant women.

Brown rice has a low glycemic index which helps in controlling blood sugar levels. It helps in maintaining cholesterol levels. It contains strong antioxidants which can maintain cardiovascular health. It is a superfood and the list of health benefits and diseases it can act against is long: it helps to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, amnesia and dementia, helps in maintaining the health of lactating mothers, maintaining digestion, helps in anti-depression, helps to maintain bone health and immunity as well as in reducing insomnia.

Here is a link to an article that I found interesting, on the presence of arsenic in brown rice, and how rinsing and cooking in a lot of water, like pasta, can reduce the arsenic content.

Fighting Cancer: Brown rice helps in the fight against cancer, with its powerful antioxidants and the high fibre content, and is said to be effective in the prevention of colon cancer, breast cancer and leukaemia.

Tomatoes are rich in Vitamin C and other antioxidants which can help combat the formation of free radicals known to cause cancer. The lycopene in tomatoes is thought to be effective in lowering the incidence of Prostate cancer, while the beta carotene is believed to protect against Prostate cancer in younger men. Diets rich in tomatoes may give a lower risk of certain types of cancer, especially cancers of the prostate, lung, and stomach. The potassium in tomatoes is believed to help in controlling blood pressure. The fiber, potassium, vitamin C and choline content in tomatoes all support heart health and the high fibre can be helpful in controlling blood sugar. One cup of cherry tomatoes contains about 2 gms of fibre.

For a delicious and refreshing summer lunch, try out this Brown Rice Salad with Roasted Tomatoes and Asparagus and do let me know how you liked it.

Brown Rice Salad with Roasted Tomatoes and Asparagus
Brown Rice Salad with Roasted Tomatoes and Asparagus

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Roasted Pumpkin Labneh Buckwheat Salad with Pomegranate and Rocket

Roasted Pumpkin Labneh Buckwheat Salad with Pomegranate and Rocket

Summery delicious nutritious Roasted Pumpkin Labneh Buckwheat Salad with Pomegranate and Rocket. With Contrasting textures & flavours – Its Heaven on a Plate!

Mango Rice – How to make Raw Mango Rice or Mangai Sadam

Mango Rice – How to make Raw Mango Rice or Mangai Sadam

Easy, tangy and tasty seasonal raw mango rice or mangai sadam, Tamil style. Grate the mango with the peel and add peanuts for greater flavour and nutrition.

Panakam -Traditional Indian Summer Cooler of Jaggery and Dry Ginger

Panakam -Traditional Indian Summer Cooler of Jaggery and Dry Ginger

It is Sri Rama Navami today and as I sat with my mother yesterday, I asked her for the recipes for the traditional dishes she always made for this festival. Rama Navami comes in April when summer is just beginning (though this year summer has shown its force since February) and the festive feast seems to be tailor made for the hot weather. Every item is cooling and refreshing. Panakam or Panagam is a traditional item in the food prepared on this day, and is easy to make.

Panakam or Panagam: Traditional chilled drink of Jaggery water with dry ginger -specially made for Sri Rama Navami festival - easy, refreshing and healthy

A glass (or two) of chilled panakam is great for quenching thirst. With the flavours of cardamom, dry ginger (sukku) in the jaggery water, it is tempting to drink this throughout the day, and then to make it again and again on these hot and humid days. You might like to read this interesting article I came across, in The Hindu on the health benefits of this ‘cool energy drink’.

I have made the Panakam just according to my mother’s recipe, however as an option, lemon juice could be added – about 1 tablespoon for 1.5 cups of panakam. Pepper corns may be powdered and added to, to give its distinctive flavours – about 1/4 teaspoon of pepper for 1.5 cups of the panakam. A pinch of edible camphor would enhance the flavours, but take care to use just a little as the taste can be overpowering.

Rama Navami is a Hindu festival, celebrating the birth of Sri Ram, the 7th avatar of the God Vishnu. When we were growing up, at Kharagpur in West Bengal, it was an occasion for all of my parents friends to gather together and cook and enjoy the grand lunch. The thirst quenchers were the panakam and the neer mor (spiced buttermilk), and another cooling salad was the one with cucumber and moong dhal, with green chilli and coriander leaves. There would be a kheer or payasam, a sambar and tasty vegetables, rasam of course, by the gallon, and fried papads. My father and Ravikumar’s father, Manian uncle would make their famous Badam Kheer instead of a standard payasam. All in all the food that day was a feast for the Gods, though it was we mortals who tucked into it with gusto.

The house would have been scrubbed and cleaned all over the previous day. Mango leaves would be strung across the main entrance, and early in the morning, my mother would wash the area outside the front door and lay out wonderful designs called kolam or moggu  with rice powder. I would do my small bit, adding dots wherever they were required. The house would be fragrant with the scent of flowers and incense and all the aromas from the kitchen.

Panakam or Panagam: Traditional chilled drink of Jaggery water with dry ginger -specially made for Sri Rama Navami festival - easy, refreshing and healthy

Here is my recipe then for the easy to make panakam. I hope you enjoy making and having it!

 

 

Pathiya Peerkangai Thogayal with Pirandai Bone Setter for a New Mom

Pathiya Peerkangai Thogayal with Pirandai Bone Setter for a New Mom

Cooking for the New Mom – Peerkangai thogayal (thurai or ridge gourd chutney) with pirandai Bone setter stem gives the special nutritional benefits needed by the new mother

Kothavarangai Paruppu Usili – Cluster Beans Dhal Paste Curry

Kothavarangai Paruppu Usili – Cluster Beans Dhal Paste Curry

Kothavarangai Paruppu Usili from a traditional Tamil Iyer Style Recipe. Cluster beans sautéed with tuar dal-chilli paste, tempered with mustard seeds & hing.

Easy Vegetable Koottu -Veggies & Lentil Stew for the New Mom

Easy Vegetable Koottu -Veggies & Lentil Stew for the New Mom

Continuing the series of Pathiya Samayal Recipes or Recipes for the New Mom, Vegetable Koottu – easy to make, nutritious and very tasty – at least thats what Mridula says, and she should know – I’ve been making a vegetable koottu as part of lunch, several times a week during the Post Partum diet. The traditional koottu generally has coconut paste added to it, however for the Pathiya Samayal or food for the New mother, I don’t add coconut. And of course no chillies – in a regular koottu, fresh chilli would be ground along with the coconut, and a red chilli or two added to the tempering or tadka. Pepper is a good substitute for chilli in cooking for the new Mom.

Check my post for Menu Ideas and for what goes into a Balanced Meal for the first 40 days after child birth: Cooking for the New Mom   Cooking without adding onions, chillies, coconut etc and from only a small selection of vegetables considered healthy for this diet, is not easy, so I have tried to capture my experience in cooking for my daughters, in that post.

The vegetable koottu is a South Indian dish, though I don’t know why it is not a Pan Indian one. Perhaps it is because it does not have garam masala and chilli powder s as an ingredient. Or perhaps it is a South Indian derivative of the ubiquitous Dal with vegetables added to the dal. Wikipedia says “Kootu (Tamil:கூட்டு) is a Tamil word means “add” i.e. vegetable added with lentils which form the dish, made of vegetable and lentils and are semi-solid in consistency, i.e., less aqueous than sambhar, but more so than dry curries.

The caregiver for the new mother is usually rushed for time in the mornings. As for me, I would go to bed only after planning the lunch menu for the next day. The maalish lady would come at 10 and the baby would demand my attention during the time her mother had the maalish and bath. It was ‘Me time’ for me and my granddaughter for an hour and a half, and I revelled in it. Lunch had to be ready therefore before 10 – a rasam, dal or kuzhambu, a vegetable koottu or a  thogayal (vegetable chutney), a sautéed curry or poriyal.

Cooking for the New Mom_PepperOnPizza.com
Cooking for the New Mom

I would wash rice and keep the cooker ready so that I could set the rice to cook 10 minutes before Mridula came for lunch. I like to serve food hot, so I would heat the rasam or kuzhambu just before serving, and fry the manathangali (manathakkali) or black nightshade berries in ghee. Here is a link to an interesting article I came across, on the health benefits of this ‘wonder berry’.

The vegetable koottu is an integral part of this menu as it is nutritious, adds the protein and vitamin component to the lunch, and tastes so good with either rasam or a kuzhambu/ sambar. The list of ingredients may seem long, but each little condiment or spice adds to the health of the new mother and helps give her a balanced meal or pathiya samayal. The Koottu may be served with chappaties instead of rice.

Vegetable Koottu – Selecting the Ingredients

When making Vegetable koottu, choose vegetables that are soft and quick to cook – snake gourd (podalankai), saag (arai keerai), pumpkin (either red or white) etc.  Mridula’s favourite is the drumstick (murungakkai) koottu.

Snake Gourd Koottu
Snake Gourd Koottu

The best dal/ lentils for the new mom, during the 42 days after child birth is the moong dal or pasi paruppu as it is easy to digest and does not cause gas the way thowar or arahar dal would, and adds the protein component to the diet. In fact I observed that even after 42 days when the baby would be better used to mother’s milk, a small quantity of thowar dal in the rasam or sambar would often cause gas for the baby. Red/ Pink masoor dal (Mysore paruppu) may be substituted for the moong dal occasionally, to vary the taste, after the first 2 weeks after child birth.

The process is similar for making the vegetable koottu, irrespective of the vegetable used. Boil the lentils and the sliced vegetables  with a little salt, asafoetida (hing) and turmeric, add freshly ground peppercorns, mash lightly and temper / tadka with ghee, mustard, fenugreek, cumin seeds and curry leaves.

Links to Other recipes in this series of Cooking for the New Mom:

Pathiya Milagu Kuzhambu (Pepper Sambar)  http://www.pepperonpizza.com/pathiya-milagu-kuzhambu-new-mom-recipe

Khichidi for the New Mom:  http://www.pepperonpizza.com/easy-khichidi-for-the-new-mom

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Thin crust Tomato Mozzarella Pizza

Thin crust Tomato Mozzarella Pizza

Simple to make and an amazingly tasty classic pizza, topped with Tomato, Bell Peppers and Mozarella cheese. The basil leaves and freshly ground pepper take it to a another dimension. Try a variant with different toppings, taking you to Pizza Heaven! The recipe for the pizza dough is from The Greens