Simple Fresh Lemon Mint Basil Hummus Dip, easy to make and with all the flavours of the herbs and garlic. Serve with homemade pita bread
Festive Pineapple Rasam a tangy South Indian Pineapple Lentil Soup served with rice, papad and sautéed vegetable curry. Popular at Tamilian wedding lunches
Eye-catching and flavourful cherry and grape tomatoes of different colours and some whole wheat pasta went into this easy and quick Rotini Pasta in Garlicky Burst Cherry Tomato Sauce. The sauce cooks quickly while the rotini is boiling, and the pasta is ready to serve in 15 minutes. Not much chopping and slicing required as the tomatoes are added whole. The cooking times below are assuming that the pasta is set to boil while the sauce is being prepared, and then the cooked pasta is added to the sauce at the end.
I have not made pasta with rotini before and I had to look it up in Wikipedia to see how it was different from fusilli, but am no wiser as there are contradictory explanations in Wiki’s definition! However I do agree with the statement that the curly spirals of the rotini pasta retains the sauces and is suitable for the burst cherry tomato sauce in this recipe.
I had delicious spaghetti with burst cherry tomatoes and garlic for dinner one evening when we visited St. Michaels on the Chesapeake Bay last month and I must try that out soon too.While I usually prefer long pasta such as spaghetti or fettucine, today the little spirally tricolour rotini in the Rotini Pasta in Garlicky Burst Cherry Tomato Sauce, complemented the red yellow brown and green coloured tomatoes that we picked up at the local Farmers market on Saturday. As the garlic cloves were large, I sliced them thin and long and minced the fresh basil leaves from the garden. Small garlic cloves may be added whole without slicing. I also added some sliced green pepper with the lady at the farmers market informed me would taste smoky after cooking.
The best part of this Rotini Pasta in Garlicky Burst Cherry Tomato Sauce recipe was that it is so quick and easy to make and quite effortless too. It has earned me brownie points with my granddaughter Tamanna who says its ‘yummy’, high praise from this 5 year old little gourmet!
Cherry tomatoes are not just juicy and tasty, they have all the health benefits of the regular tomatoes. Chock full of Vitamins A and C, they also have Lycopene which is considered beneficial in fighting prostate cancer in men.
You may also like to try out my recipe for different coloured cherry tomatoes in this Roasted Tomato Couscous Salad.
Exotically different from most chutneys, the fresh Cherry Mint Chutney has a refreshingly sweet, slightly tangy taste, subtly flavoured with orange peel
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!
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.
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.
Summery delicious nutritious Roasted Pumpkin Labneh Buckwheat Salad with Pomegranate and Rocket. With Contrasting textures & flavours – Its Heaven on a Plate!
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.
One more recipe in my series on Cooking for the New Mom. This one is a simple Pathiya Peerkangai Thogayal or chutney, with ingredients suitable for a healthy balanced diet (pathiya samayal) during the 40 days immediately after delivery. In a traditional Tamil style Peerkangai Thogayal or Turai/ Ridge Gourd Peel chutney, red chillies and tuvar dhal would be added. However as both these are not advisable for a new mother, peppercorns and moong dhal (passi paruppu) are substituted. When properly made, the Pathiya Peerkangai Thogayal is both tasty and nutritious.
Do check my post for Menu Ideas and for what goes into a Balanced Meal for the first 40 days after child birth, as well as Recipes for this diet in Cooking for the New Mom or Pathiya Samayal, my way. 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.
Check here for the recipe for a Peerkangai Thogayal or Thurai Chutney for a normal diet.
In this recipe for Pathiya Peerkangai Thogayal, I have included a plant that is not commonly known in modern cooking though it was a traditional staple in many parts of India and has been known for its medicinal properties since ancient times. This is the Bone setter Plant or Pirandai (Tamil), also called the Adamant creeper or Devil’s Back Bone in English, and as Hadjot in Hindi, Mangaravalli in Kannada. From what I can see online, the Bone setter plant is nor generally seen in urban markets, but is found in vegetable shops as well as in kitchen gardens in rural Tamilnadu as well as in some places in Chennai and other cities. It should be available in other parts of the country too, as the plant is very sturdy and tenuous, does not require much maintenance.
I had known about the plant and its properties, specially its use since ancient times for healing fractures and injuries of the bone, much earlier and had forgotten all about it, until my cousin Srimathi (Seetha Anandam Vaidyam) gave me a cutting to plant at home at Hyderabad, saying it would be good to add to my daughter’s diet after her delivery. The simplest use of the plant is to snap off a piece of the tender stem and add it to the Pathiya Peerkangai Thogayal that I am describing in this post. Do you see this cactusy looking plant to the right in the pic below? Thats the pirandai, curtsey Seetha, merrily growing in Mridula’s balcony at Hyderabad.
The Pirandai plant has numerous health benefits, however it is a medicinal plant and hence its consumption should be in moderation and should and with due information as to the effects of adding this plant to the diet.
The recipe below also explains how the stem is to be prepared for the thogayal. It is well worth the extra efforts to add the bone setter or pirandai stem to the recipe, because of its great medicinal benefits. I came across some a lot of information on this plant that you could check if interested, on the website called Wild Turmeric
Kitchen Hints for preparing Pirandai in Pathiya Peerkangai Thogayal:
- Select only the new tender growth of stem. The stem grows at nodes, and the first two such digits are the most tender. The rest of the stem is more mature and can cause itchiness during handling. Sesame oil applied to the hands before plucking and while preparing it for the Pathiya Peerkangai Thogayal, would help avoid any itching. I have not personally faced this problem but as several articles online mention this, it is best to take this precaution.
- If using some of the older and tougher parts of the stem, wash the stems and peel away the sharp edges from top down.
- Add curry leaves and turmeric to the stem slices while sautéing, as in the recipe below, to get the best out of the stem and to avoid any possible itching.
As the Perandai plant is not readily accessible in most places, the addition of the stem to this recipe is optional. The proportions of the remaining ingredients need not change if you are omitting the bonesetter from the recipe. As I could not lay hands on it in Bangalore, I have made the version in the pictures below, without the perandai stem.
Kothavarangai Paruppu Usili from a traditional Tamil Iyer Style Recipe. Cluster beans sautéed with tuar dal-chilli paste, tempered with mustard seeds & hing.