Recipes Beyond Borders- sometimes Exotic, mostly Healthy, always Delicious

Ingredient: Cumin (Jeera) seeds

Baingan Badi Sabzi – Curried Aubergine with Black Gram  Fritters

Baingan Badi Sabzi – Curried Aubergine with Black Gram Fritters

Exploring the cuisine of each State in India by turn, is such an enriching experience. This Baingan Badi Sabzi, a delicious eggplant and lentil fritters curry from the traditional Bhojpuri cuisine prevalent in the Indian states of Bihar and UttarPradesh, is interesting to make and has ingredient options that make it nutritious too. The main ingredient is the brinjal or eggplant/ aubergine. This is accompanied by small sun dried badis which seems to have many names – wadi, wadiyan, mangodi etc. The basic ingredient for making a badi is flour – though the flour and spices, herbs to be added differ across regions. I have made a simple Bihari  Urad dhal ki badi, with black gram lentils. The recipe is given in the instructions below.

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Ven Pongal – Lentils cooked with Rice

Ven Pongal – Lentils cooked with Rice

Ven Pongal is the South Indian breakfast version of khichidi and is made of moong dhal (green gram lentils) and rice, pressure cooked and tempered with cumin, coriander leaves, pepper and ghee.  It is a popular breakfast, served with chutney and sambar and also along with dhal vada or vadai, made from fried lentil batter. Ven Pongal is easy to make and is both nutritious and tasty, specially when it is tempered with ghee, garnished with fried cashew and served really hot.

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Sarson Ka Saag – Flavourful Mustard Greens

Sarson Ka Saag – Flavourful Mustard Greens

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When Winter comes, can Sarson ka Saag be far behind! The ultimate greens dish, a classic from Punjab in Northern India. Mustard greens are cooked with spinach and bhatua saag and traditionally served with hot makki rotis, though they are great with phulkas or tandoori roti. Actually I like mine with hot rice and rasam!

Mustard greens are an ancient crop, grown in the Himalayan and sub Himalayan regions of the Indian Sub -continent, and have been known to have been cultivated  for more than 5,000 years. They are a popular ingredient in a wide range of cuisines, from Asian (including Japanese, Chinese Nepalese and Indian) to Southern American. They are generally available during the cold season, from November to March. In India, the Sarson ka Saag, a curry, is the most popular.

I have made sarson ka saag both with the regular Indian greens, and with the peppery pungent and delicious Mizuna or japanese mustard (Brassica rapa). Actually here in Bangalore, it is easier for me to source zero pesticide fresh Japanese mustard greens from First Agro Farms, rather than the  sarson ka saag from Northern India, which is not easily available.

Japanese Mustard at First Agro_PepperOnPizza.com
Japanese Mustard at First Agro Farms, Mysore

Health and Nutrition:

Mustard greens, (Botanical name Brassica juncea) are a veritable powerhouse of nutrients and cancer fighting properties. Low in calorific value (about 27 cals for every 100 gms of raw leaves), they are rich in dietary fibre as well as in phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals. The dietary fibre helps control cholesterol. The leaves have been known to have a high content of vitamin K which is an anti-inflammatory nutrient, and Scientists consider that Vitamin K  helps in bone mass building as well as in reducing neuro damage in the brain for patients suffering from Alzheimer’s.

The greens are also a great source for other vitamins such as vitamin A (beta-carotene), Vitamins C, E, B6, B2 as well as minerals, copper, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, iron, and potassium, magnesium, niacin, pantothenic acid, folate as well as protein.

Cancer fighting properties:

Research suggests that Mustard greens are an excellent source of anti-oxidant like flavonoids, indoles, sulforaphane, carotenes, lutein and zea-xanthin. Nutrition-and-you.com website states that Mustard greens contain Indoles, mainly di-indolyl-methane (DIM) and sulforaphane which have proven benefits against prostate, breast, colon and ovarian cancers by virtue of their cancer-cell growth inhibition, cytotoxic effects on cancer cells.

The key phytonutrients in mustard greens or sarson ka saag, are said to give antioxidant support which can help lower the risk of oxidative stress in body cells, thereby reducing  cell damage and bringing down a risk factor in development of most cancer types.

Mustard greens helps the body to detox through its antioxidants nutrients, sulfur-containing nutrients and phytonutrients. Toxins building up in the body can increase the risk of cells turning cancerous, and hence consumption of these greens  can help to counter the ill effects of toxins.

The other ingredients all contribute to the nutritional values of this tasty curry.

Spinach is again, like mustard greens, a good source of fiber as well as magnesium, which is needed for healthy nerves and muscles.

Ginger, garlic and onions, which are the remaining ingredients, have anti-inflammatory benefits and are high in antioxidants.

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