Crunch crunch crunch crunch.
That’s how long they last – these Bhindi crisps….
Crunch crunch crunch crunch.
That’s how long they last – these Bhindi crisps….
Morsel-sized flavour bombs.
If you haven’t ever got around to baking plum tomatoes, you should.
Not only are they super easy, they’re also incredibly versatile and go with nearly everything from pizza to pasta to salad, to toppings on bread, to main ingredient in a soup, to what not.
Not that I get a chance to make many of those other things, because baked cherry tomatoes disappear from the tray before even they have a chance to cool down.
Quite simply delicious even just as they are. Everyone loves snacking on them.
If you are able to hang on to some, they can keep in the fridge for a few days.
I like to make a large batch when in season – cherry tomatoes are also incredibly easy to grow at home – and this provides a delightful way to use up a glut of produce that will invariably result.
TIP: I use a good quality EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) – my rare, non-local indulgence, very sparingly (also because the organic kind can get really premium!) and make a little go a long way by depositing a drop (or two) onto each cut half of cherry tomato using a spoon (or pipette when working with larger quantities!).
Not necessary, really, they can just all be tossed together. But I’m OCD-ish about things like that. ;D
The advantages of doing it this way are many.
One is that the oil lands up where it benefits the most – in the pulp.
It provides the most flavour, by cooking the juices in the oil.
And also, the most nutrients, because the lycopene present in the tomato is fat-soluble.
It minimises the amount of leathery, fried tomato skins (since they will be softer when just baked in their own juices, not oil).
As a bonus there won’t be much precious oil wasted by being smeared on the tray.
Cleanup will be easier. (A good soak in plain water should suffice before the pan/tray can be easily scrubbed clean.) 😀
A delicious, quick and easy way to use (and store) cherry tomatoes which are great as is, or as toppings or ingredients in many other dishes and salads or soups.
Preheat oven to 170 degrees Centigrade
Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and place them on a sheet pan, cut side up.
Drizzle oil over the tops.
Sprinkle salt and cracked pepper (and any herbs, balsamic etc, if using)
Bake for 20 - 30 minutes, or till shrivelled, but juicy. Longer, for a more dehydrated version. Shorter time for a juicier one.
TIP -The golden mean to look for would be where the the juices evaporate just enough to intensify the flavour of the tomatoes, the sugars start to caramelise (without burning), and there is still enough moisture that it doesn't seem too leathery.
This desert captures the purest essence of very Indian flavours in a delightfully new, vegan, and very healthy avatar.
“Badam Milk” or almond milk is a very popular beverage that’s enjoyed either steaming hot or chilled in many parts of the country, and especially so in my city of Bengaluru.
In this version, there is no dairy, instead the milk itself is made from soaked almonds, with a subtle hint of cardamom. Because it uses the most basic and minimal ingredients, the clean, fresh notes of saffron, as well as the delicate yet rich flavour of almonds shine through.
An easy, delicious and healthy dessert using almond milk with natural flavouring, set using agar.
Heat the water in a small pan, and when boiling, turn down the heat.
Dissolve the agar powder in the water, till completely dissolved.
Mix in a teaspoon of this mixture along with 2 teaspoons of the powdered palm candy (or sweetener of choice) into the saffron water and pour into four dariole moulds, or a small, shallow tray or pan (the dessert can be cut into pieces after unmoulding).
This will actually set even at room temperature, but it could go into the fridge till soft set.
Meanwhile heat the almond milk along with the cardamom pods, and mix in the remaining candy powder and agar. Heat through till well mixed. Remove the cardamom pods and discard them.
Pout this steaming hot mixture gently into the moulds in which the saffron layer should now be set. Use a spoon to soften the impact of the stream pouring in. There will be a slight mixing in of layers which is desirable.
Place this into the fridge to set.
Once set, invert into serving dishes and serve with fresh fruit of choice
(I used custard apple and fig puree)
Masala peanuts are an easy way to put together a few simple ingredients and end up with a delicious power-snack.
Humble-looking, it belies it’s delicious quotient, packed with crunch, zing and nutritional value, and it really needs to be more mainstream than it usually is (typically a bar snack) because it’s easy, quick, and eminently tweak-able. Include grated carrots, for example.
Healthy, guilt-free, delicious. Also vegan, gluten-free.
Mini figures courtesy Y2. 😀 No, the truffles didn’t need those tools, actually. ;
Luckily, no need to fret while reaching out for that extra one.The other day, I made several of these for a birthday treat. They’re pretty addictive!
So, of course, I had several extra ones. Just like everybody else.
This is fairly quick and simple to make.
For something even quicker and simpler, try these Chocolate Almond Dates.
But when it just has to be a round truffle with a gooey, chocolatey filling, this is a pretty good option.
There are endless permutations and combinations that can go into this sort of thing, – but we can just start from here and go wild with creating more versions! 😀
(Pssst, no one has to know that this treat, sweetened naturally, just with dates, is actually healthy.) 😉
Healthy, guilt-free, delicious chocolate treat, sweetened naturally, just with dates. Also vegan, gluten-free. Easy to make.
Melt the chocolate in a double boiler, dip the balls into the chocolate and place on a parchment or silicon lined tray. (Add a spoonful of oil into the chocolate if needed, to make it smoother while coating.)
Can be stored at room temperature for a few days.
Dal is an important constituent in an Indian vegetarian diet, which, when combined with either rice, or roti as it usually is, provides a complete protein, besides minerals and vitamins.
In its most basic version, dal is simply soaked for a bit, then boiled (pressure-cooked) with salt, and it is ready! This is the version that gets made most often in my house, with the addition of turmeric and a tempering of cumin seeds and asafoetida.
There are more delightful and delicious versions of roasted dals (also many other ones, besides tur) that can be made into a Podi (Roasted, spiced dal powder) or Pachadi (Roasted, spiced dal chutney) etc.
Tur Dal (Red Gram/Pigeon Pea) ½ cup
Salt to taste
Water – 1 1/4 cup
1.) Roast the dal on medium heat with constant stirring, till nicely browned and fragrant.
2.) Rinse and pressure cook with the water as usual till soft (ie, bring to full pressure, then maintain on simmer for 8-10 minutes, allow pressure to drop normally).
3.) Add salt to taste. Serve hot.
Traditionally loved with steaming hot rice (and a bit of jaggery and ghee) on the side, but versatile enough to go with anything.
I would go so far as to say that it joins the list of those traditional snacks, like namak paras, or atta laddus (so rich, but highly desirable!) that are generally kept around the house, especially during exams or vacations.
Dry ingredients – mix these well, sift these together:
2 cups Atta (Whole wheat flour)
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
½ teaspoon Baking Soda
1 cup Raisins
1 cup Walnuts (Chopped and lightly toasted)
1. Mix the dry ingredients well and sift them together.
2. Mix the wet ingredients. (I usually grind them all together in the blender.)
3. Combine the two quickly and well. Add in the nuts and raisins.
4. Pour into a greased and floured (or parchment lined) eight by four inch, covered loaf pan.
5. Bake in the centre of a preheated oven at 180 degrees C for an hour. Test for done-ness – bake upto another half an hour, if required.
6. Allow to cool, turn out in five minutes. Slice when completely cooled.
Great with tea, or even just by itself.
A good way to start incorporating ancient grains – millets, in everyday diet is with this wholewheat bread with finger millet, fresh dill and a touch of spice using hot green chilli peppers.
Ragi or Finger Millet is one of the better known and, in fact, quite widely used millets in many parts of South and Western India.
|Ragi looks a lot like big, brown mustard seeds, though in colour, more of a rich mahogany medley.
(I only had small brown mustard at hand just then, so for scale have included big yellow, too)
It also belongs to a category now gaining popularity, referred to as an “ancient grain”, or one that has remained more or less unchanged over time, unlike extensively hybridized varieties of wheat and rice. So we are perhaps thinking of going back to our roots in quest of what we might be missing.
Ragi is popular with good reason, too. Rich in calcium (the richest source among plant foods!) and iron, it is also often the preferred grain of choice here in porridge as a weaning food for babies, as well as figuring prominently in the everyday diet in many parts of Karnataka (a part of southern India), which is the largest producer of this millet in India.
|Ragi takes on a lovely, dark, chocolate-y hue when moistened.|
Not only is it gluten-free, but Ragi is quite versatile and can be used in a surprisingly varied number of ways both savoury and sweet: roti (flatbread), mudde (soft-cooked balls), dosa (crêpe), idli (steamed cake), kheer (porridge), ganji (congee), cookies, laddus and many more.
To make this nice-textured bread, which slices well and also makes good rolls, I have blended ragi and wholewheat flours. The rich, dark colour and earthy taste make this bread go well with anything, it’s perfect even just plain (adjust the spice quotient to your liking), or toasted, or as a sandwich.
I used the buns to make vegan burgers which were great too.
The addition of the leafy green dill (sabsige soppu) an iron-rich ingredient make this not only a taste-good, but also a feel-good and do-good food! 😀
TIP: Though there is a significant amount of leafy-greens (fresh dill can be very strong-tasting, but it mellows quite a bit in the bread), it is well camouflaged in the rich, dark colours and even enhances the earthy flavours. The spicy quotient is high which also makes it a great tea-time snack with Indian masala overtones that go oh-so-well with chai! Feel free to omit the chillies if you don’t want it spicy.
These days, I don’t bake too much bread (and particularly those with commercial yeast). But this is one of those exceptions with so many good ingredients going for it.
I tend to usually allow the dough (first proof) to slow-rise in the refrigerator overnight which helps the flavours meld and mellow better. That way I have some flexibility about when to bake it the next day, which could be possible even in the morning. Once out of the fridge and back to room temp, the second proving usually takes only half as long.
Feel free to do a faster rise in a warm place (or gently pre-heated oven).
Well, to be quite honest, this is not actually her exact recipe (a no-knead, with 100% ragi!), but an amalgamation of two different recipes which I have learnt from Shoba aunty and Gopalan uncle (whose breads are legend), so generously shared.
It would be presumptuous to try to capture the original recipe, though I have been a fortunate recipient of it, so I won’t. Because, more than just a list of ingredients and procedure, it is a passion and a dedication beyond the ordinary that produces an impeccable loaf every single time, a tryst with, and an understanding of, bread, from within the heart and within the molecules around each aerated pore in the dough as it rises into unfailing deliciousness every single time.
This isn’t really required, of course. There might otherwise be some cracks on the surface, which are perfectly fine and just add to the character.
If I’m reaching for a nice, healthy drink, chances are high that it will be this one.
Pomegranate juice has always been one of my favorites.
But ever since I got to know from an ayurvedic pratitioner about how one simple, small addition not only further enhances it’s taste, but also apparently improves the iron absorption (by increasing it’s bio-availability) multi-fold times (apparently something like 2000x), I’ve been hooked to making it that way.
And that small addition is the wonder fruit called Amla – the super food that is pretty much revered all over the Indian subcontinent as such by our ancient scriptures and holds a place of pride in the arsenal of many ayurvedic remedies.
Why amla? Because, (as per this study conducted at the Institute of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine), amla is supreme when it comes to enhancing iron dialysability and uptake, and that is, besides being commonly and cheaply available.
Phyllanthus emblica L. (Indian gooseberry or amla) is a well-known dietary supplement (Rasayana) in Ayurveda used in the management of iron deficiency anaemia (Pandu). Amla is said to act by regulating the ‘metabolic fire’ (agni), which is important for proper digestion and absorption of nutrients.
If taking it therapeutically, try keeping the ratio around 20-30 ml of amla juice to a glass (around 200ml) of pomegranate juice.
Else, simply add a couple of amlas (de-seeded) into the mixie along with the arils of one pomegranate, some water, blend, strain and enjoy! Or, if amla is not available, just add any source of Vitamin C such as orange juice. 😀
And, for at least an hour before and after having this drink, avoid few things like tea, coffee, chocolate, spinach to maximise the benefits. These contain certain compounds and phytonutrients including tannins and oxalic acid, which prevent the body from from absorbing the iron.
Delicious food can be medicine, too.
This is a fairly simple and much loved dish in many parts of India.
Even those who generally do not like aubergines wouldn’t mind a helping of baingan bharta.
Despite the simplicity, there are many regional variations, however minor, that make it taste very different from one region to another, depending on whether it was made using mustard oil, or smoked or not, or the spices and masalas that went in etc.
Here is my version which is as simple as it can get, and just the way I love it.
No spices, minimal oil, the flavours of the brinjal, tomato and onion just shine through in a delicious medley.
Aubergine – 1 large
Onions – 2 large (finely chopped)
Tomatoes – 1 large (I used 2, because I like it tangy!) finely chopped
Chopped fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves – 2 tablespoons (finely minced)
Oil – 2 teaspoons
Salt – to taste
1. Roast the aubergine directly on a low flame (or better yet, on hot coals or bbq if possible!), turning from time to time, till the skin is charred and the inside is cooked. Alternately, broil in an oven after coating the skin with a little oil. Or boil. The last two methods may not provide that characteristic smoky flavour that is such an important component of the flavour.
2. Carefully peel and discard the charred skin. Lightly mash the flesh with a fork and keep aside.
3. Cook the onions on a low flame in the oil adding 1/4 teaspoon salt till well cooked and light brown.
4. Add the tomatoes and continue cook till soft and till the oil starts to separate. The water from the tomatoes should slightly dry up.
5. Add the mashed aubergine and heat through, further mashing it lightly in the process.
6. Turn off the heat, mix in the coriander.
7. Serve hot with rotis or parantha.
8. Works great as a dip with chips or pita bread, too.