Monday, April 30, 2012

Seekh Kabab - without the Seekh and an Unusual Dip

A couple of weeks ago we went to Chaska Grill, a Middle Eastern Restaurants, specializing in Indian and Pakistani Cuisine. The food was extraordinary. Their Goat Biriyani was the best I had in US till date and the Kabas.... oh!!!!!! You need to really taste it. We had ordered Seekh Kabab and Malai Kabab. Thought I am very very fond of Kababs, I must admit, Seekh Kabab is not one of my very favorite. Not many Indian Restaurants can make them perfectly. Often they are overloaded with spices and are dry. The best Seekh Kabab I ever had was at my friend's wedding at Lucknow. They was absolute melt-in-mouth. The juiciest and most flavorful one I ever tasted.

The one that we had in Chaska Grill, came pretty close. It was not overtly spiced and had coriander seeds coarsely pounded in the mixture. Every time you get a seed in the mouth, there is a flavor explosion in your mouth. Since then, I was itching to find a perfect recipe to recreate that Seekh Kabab magic in my kitchen. But it was  not very easy. Nearly all the recipes, I found in the World Wide Web, used fine powders and not coarse powder. Eventually, I started looking for Pakistani recipes and found a close match at this site. This recipe does not use any ginger or garlic. Making a meat dish, with our ginger-garlic is unimaginable for me. So I tweaked the recipe a little and came up with my version.

Another great tip that I learnt from VahChef Sanjay Thumma, is that "Moisture is a great enemy of good kababs". So I make sure my meat and all the ingredients I use are absolutely dry. I do not use ginger-garlic paste, since it has water content. I mince my ginger and garlic very finely with my knife. My Seekh Kababs turned out very good and went extremely well with my unusual dip, I served it with.

What I used:
Ground Chicken/ lamb/ beef -  1 pound
Garlic - 4 cloves, finely minced
Ginger - 2" piece, finely minced
Spring Onion - 4 chopped
Cilantro/ Coriander leaves - a small handful, very finely chopped
Green Chilies - 1-2 finely chopped (optional)
Red Chili Powder or Kashmiri Lal Mirch - 1 tsp
Anardana Seeds (Dry Pomegranate Seeds) - 2 tsp, crushed
Coriander Seeds - 2tbsp, crushed
Garam Masala - 2 tsp
Chaat Masala - 2 tsp
Egg - 1 

How I did it:

Dry roast the Coriander seeds and Anardana seeds, till lightly fragrant. Use a Hamandista (mortar and pestle) or a rolling pin to make a coarse powder. Do not use a dry grinder/ coffee grinder to make a fine powder.

Place the ground meat in a large bowl and pat dry with a paper towel. Add all the masala and mix very well. If using lamb or beef, cover mixture and refrigerate for 3-4 hrs. For chicken or turkey, 30 mins is more than enough.

Preheat the oven at 450F. You can shape the kababs as per your desire. You can make them round, like meatballs or flatten them like a 'tikki' or burger slider. Or you can shape them to look like actual Seekh -wala seekh kabab. This technique was told by VahChef Sanjay Thumma during his Seekh Kabab episode. Take a wooden spoon and lightly grease it. Take a fistful of meat-mix and wrap it around the handle of the spoon, like you would do in a seekh or skewer. Then gently push the meat-mix from bellow and pull away from the spoon and then layer it on a baking sheet, wrapped in aluminium foil and lightly greased. Please have a look at the video to check the exact technique. 

Bake the kababs for around 20 mins, till juices run clear. Keep checking the kababs after 15 min, because over cooked kababs are dry and tough. We want soft, moist, juicy and succulent kababs.

I made an unusual dip to be served with the kababs. - Tahini Yogurt Dip. Traditionally, Coriander-Mint or Mint-Yogurt chutney is served served with kababs. Since both tahini and kababs are part Middle-Eastern  cuisine, I thought it would be a nice change. I got the recipe from the label of the tahini bottle. The original recipe calls for 1 cup of Tahini and 2 tablespoon of Yogurt. I reversed the ratio and added 1 table spoon of tahini to half a cup of fat-free Greek Yogurt. I also added a little honey to add some depth. The dip was surprisingly refreshing and went really well with the Seekh Kababs. 

The nuttiness of the sesame seeds with the refreshing coolness and creaminess of the yogurt; the kick of the garlic and the zing of the lemon juice, with an underlying sweetness of honey; this dip had all the ingredients to tickle your taste buds. Here how I did it:

Recipe Snapshot:

What I used:
Greek Yogurt - 1/2 cup
Tahini paste - 1 tbsp
Garlic - 1 small clove very finely minced
Lemon Juice - 2 tbsp
Honey - 1 tsp

What I did:
In a glass bowl mix all the ingredients very well. There should be no lumps. The dip should be thick and creamy and smooth.

Tip: Use only Greek Yogurt. If using regular yogurt, hung it for couple of hours, till all the water is drained off. We want a creamy dip and not raita! If you do not have honey, just skip it. Please do not add sugar instead. Honey is used to add depth to the layers of flavors and not used as a sweetener!

Diabetic Platter: The Seekh kababs are virtually cooked without oil. They are purely cooked in their own fat. I had used lean chicken and hence the fat content is even less. I had paired it with whole wheat rotis, green salad and the Tahini- yogurt dip to have a wholesome meal, packed with protein, fiber, complex carbs and essential fatty acids.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Mutually Exclusive - Kale Chips and Hummus

What do you do when you have hives all over and cooking in front of the stove becomes unbearable? You make Kale Chips, Hummus and bake a Chocolate Cake! No sane individual does that, but I suffer from Compulsive Cooking Disorder, according to my BFF.

The fact is all the three items are super easy, needs no stove-top vigil and were actually results of my "unable to bear any heat" condition. I had bought the fresh kale leaves to cook it with Moong Dal and had  soaked the Kabuli Chole the previous night, to make "Punjabi Chole" for Sam's lunch box. The Cake, however was pre-planned, since it was my good friends, Kate and Stan's Wedding Anniversary. But I even used shortcut for that.

Bunch of Fresh Kale Leaves
The Kale Chips recipe were borrowed from Mandira of Ahaar. There are many Kale chips recipes on the net and I had tried a few, but they did not come out as expected. On her FB page, I commented, that my kale chips are not crispy and crunchy and if I broil, they char! She replied: "the kale has to be cooked long on low temp to get all the water out and taste best as soon as you take it out :) Try this one." And I did! Benefiting from her trial and error, I set the oven on 260F, washed and spin dried the kale leave and soaked all the remaining moisture with a kitchen paper towel. Spread it on a cookie sheet and sprinkled sea salt and freshly cracked pepper and sprayed some PAM cooking spray on the leaves and it went into the oven for 20 minutes. Turn it and it goes back for another 10 minutes. What you get after that is a plateful of crispy, crunchy, salty, light and fragile dark green kale chips that can give any bag of potato chips a run for its money! And as Mandira had said in her blog, these chips are ADDICTIVE!  

Recipe Snapshot:
What I used:
Kale Leaves - 1 bunch, stemmed and torn into bite size pieces
Sea salt - 1/4 tsp
Freshly Cracked Pepper - 1/4 tsp
Oil spray

What I did:
1. Preheat the oven at 260F.
2. Wash and spin dry the kale leave and soak any remaining moisture with a kitchen paper towel.
3. Spread it on a cookie sheet and sprinkle sea salt and freshly cracked pepper and sprayed PAM or any other cooking spray and put it into the oven for 20 minutes.
4. Turn the chips and put it back for 10 more minutes.
5. Crispy, crunchy, salty and light chips are ready to be munched away!

Tip: Do not over crowd the cookie sheet. For 1 bunch of fresh kale, I make the chips in two batches.

Definition of Hummus from Wiki, "Hummus is a Middle Eastern food dip or spread made from cooked mashed chickpeas, blended with tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and garlic." This is exactly how I make it too. I have had hummus in Mediterranean Restaurants and also the store bought variety. And without sounding too narcissist, I like the hummus that I make at home, the best! Usually, I do not add any Tahini (sesame seed paste), simply because I do not have that in hand. However, last time I went to the Halal Market, to get goat meat for our Poila Boisak (Bengali New Year) Lunch, I happened to pick a bottle of tahini. I have two rules for my type of Hummus: 
1. Do not use canned garbanzo (chickpea) beans. Why? Mental block. I find them too salty and too slimy. 
2. Do not use food processor/ blender to incorporated the ingredients. It kills the texture.

Here is what I do:

What I used:
Chickpea (dry)- 1/2 cup
Tahini - 2 tsp (optional)
Olive oil - 1 tbsp
Garlic - 1 small clove finely minced
Lemon Juice - 2-3 tbsp
Paprika/ Cayenne/ Kashmiri Lal Mirch - 1/2 tsp (as per your heat tolerence)

What I did:
1. Soak the chickpea it in ample water overnight or at least 6 hours. Next morning, they are plumped up and nearly 1 cup. Drain and put them in a pressure cooker covering with water and cook for 3 whistle at 'MEDIUM' heat. Then lower the heat to 'LOW' or 'SIM' and cook for 3 more whistle.

2. The chick pea would have become very soft by now. Drain the cooking liquid, reserving 1/4 cup.

3. In a big bowl, add the chickpea and mash it with the back of a big serving spoon. When it is roughly mashed, give a quick mash with a potato masher. The texture should be grainy and not silky smooth.

4. Add the garlic, tahini, olive oil, kashmiri lal mirch, salt and 2 tbsp of lemon juice and mix well. if its too thick and lumpy, add a little cooking liquid, till it reaches the consistency of a dip. Note: The garlic is raw, so do not add too much, even if you love garlic. If using a fat clove, use only half. 

5. Do a taste-check and adjust the salt and lemon juice according to preference.

6. Garnish with a pinch of regular chili powder or the mild Kashmiri Lala Mirch powder.

Though the Kale Chips and Hummus are clicked together, they are two mutually exclusive recipes. The Kale Chips vanished with our evening elaichi chai (cardamom tea) and bowls of hummus ware scraped clean with soft home-made rotis during dinner. And did I forget the cake? Kate and Stan dropped by after dinner at our place to cut the cake and celebrate their third anniversary with us. I had initially planned a Red Velvet Cake from scratch, but settled for a box mix of Chocolate Cake and cream-cheese frosting. The only personal touch I gave to the cake was adding teaspoon of instant coffee mixed with 2 tablespoons of warm water, to the cake batter, to enhance the  chocolate flavor.

Diabetic Platter: The Kale Chips are absolutely guilt free chips and have a minuscule calorie when compared to potato chips. And you also get the goodness of Kale.

"Kale is very high in beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C, lutein, zeaxanthin, and reasonably rich in calcium. Kale contains sulforaphane (particularly when chopped or minced), a chemical with potent anti-cancer properties. Boiling decreases the level of sulforaphane; however, steaming, microwaving, or stir frying do not result in significant loss. Along with other brassica vegetables, kale is also a source of indole-3-carbinol, a chemical which boosts DNA repair in cells and appears to block the growth of cancer cells. Kale is also a good source of carotenoids." Source Wiki.

Hummus again is very nutritious, specially when eaten with whole wheat rotis or breads. Lets see what Wiki has to say. "Hummus is high in iron and vitamin C and also has significant amounts of folate and vitamin B6. The chickpeas make it a good source of protein and dietary fiber; the tahini consists mostly of sesame seeds, which are an excellent source of the amino acid methionine, complementing the proteins in the chickpeas. Depending on the recipe, hummus carries varying amounts of monounsaturated fat. Hummus is useful in vegetarian and vegan diets; like other combinations of grains and pulses, it serves as a complete protein when eaten with bread."

So I can say we had a filling, wholesome, complete vegetarian dinner! 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Rice Noodles with Tofu and Veggies

Little Sid's favorite thing to do in a grocery store, apart from driving the "Car-Cart", is to help his Mommy find things from the grocery list. As I said, "Can you get me the Tofu please", Sid returned with green bordered pack of Soft Tofu, with Po's (of Kung Fu Panda fame) pic. "Mummy... its Po....", he said cheerfully. "No not the green Po (Soft Tofu), I want Purple Po (Extra Firm Tofu)". "I cant find Purple Po", pat came the reply. The fact is Sid's color dictionary is limited to red, green, blue, yellow, black and white only.

I did find "Purple Po" and beside it there was this "Spiced Thick Dry Tofu". A few days ago, in Cooking Channel, I had seen this salad of Chinese Celery, with these spiced Dry Tofu, dressed with Chinese Spiced Oil, by Mark Bittman. And since then, I has wanted to try this pressed tofu. But I really did not expect to find it in a regular grocery store. So I blatantly ignored my "Purple Po" and came back home, excited about these new found love.

The World Wide Web failed to give me a suitable recipe use use my tofu. I took inspiration from my favorite Cantonese Style Noodles and created the following recipe.

What I needed:
Rice Noodles - 1 Packet
Cabbage - ½ cup (approx) chopped
Green Beans - ¼ cup (approx) sliced
Carrots - ¼ cup (approx) julienned 
Cauliflower - ¼ cup (approx) broken into little florets
Broccoli - ¼ cup (approx) broken into little florets
Mushrooms - ½ cup (approx) sliced
Yu choy sum - 1 bunch, leaves only, roughly torn by hands
Onions - 1 medium sliced
Spiced Thick Dry Tofu - 4 sliced, thinly sliced
Ginger - 2 tsp chopped finely
Garlic - 2 tsp chopped finely
Soy Sauce - 2 tsp
Oyster Sauce - 2 tsp
Chili Garlic paste - 2 tsp (optional, and the quantity depends on your heat tolerance)
Chicken or vegetable broth or stock - ½ cup
Cornstarch - 2tbsp mixed with water
Eggs - 2
Spring Onion Greens for garnish

How I did it:

Prep - 1: Wash, dry and chop the assorted veggies. You can use as many or as little veg as desired. Most of the veggies, I used were leftovers from other recipes.

Prep - 2: Prepare scramble eggs for garnish
In a bowl, combine eggs and salt and pinch of pepper. Heat a tablespoon of oil over medium-low heat. Pour the egg mixture into pan, stirring slowly. As soon as curds begin to form, increase heat to high and instead of stirring, use a spatula to fold the eggs over themselves while gently shaking the pan with your other hand. As soon as no more liquid is running around the bottom of the pan, remove from the heat and reserve. 

STEP 1 to 3

STEP 4 to 6

STEP 7 to 9

1. Heat Oil on moderate heat and add the garlic and ginger and let it sizzle for 30 seconds.

2. Add the onions and sauté for another 30 to 40 seconds.

3. Now add the sliced Tofu and fry for 1 minute.

4. Now add the Soy Sauce, Oyster Sauce, and Chili Garlic Paste and give it a good mix.

5. Now add the Mushrooms fry for a minute.

6. Add the shredded cabbage and mix well.

7. Add the assorted veggies and give a quick stir.

8. Add ½ cup of Chicken or Veg Broth and bring to a boil and then add the Yu Choy Sum and mix 
well. Do a taste-check and add salt and pepper accordingly.

9. Now make a paste of 2 tbsp of cornstarch with little water and add and let the gravy thicken to a coating consistency. The last 3 steps should not take more than 2 minutes. You do not want the veggies to cook till mushy in the broth. They should retain their crunch.

10. While on step-8, in a separate larger saucepan or a soup pot, bring a potful of salted water to a boil.   Take it off the heat and soak the rice noodle for 2-3 mins, till soft. Drain and sprinkle a 5-6 drops of sesame seed for flavor. 

To plate it, follow the pic: 

1. Make a bed of rice noodle in your serving plate.
2. Top with a generous amount of veggie gravy.
3. Garnish with Scrambled Eggs and Scallion Greens.

Rice Noodles with Tofu and Veggies is ready to be devoured. Though the cooking time is very less and  not complicated at all, still I won't call it a easy-breezy recipe, because, the prep required some effort... a lot actually. Cleaning and chopping the veggies, making scrambled eggs, mincing the garlic and ginger, took good 30 mins. But the end result was worth the effort. Do give this a try. The spiced dry tofu was very mildly spiced. I actually could not make out the difference between a extra firm tofu and the dry ones, except for the moisture bit. I felt the word "spiced" is a misnomer here. However, the tofu beautifully absorbed the various sauces and were extremely flavorful once stir-fried.

Diabetic Platter: This is a excellent vegetarian one dish meal, an ideal diabetic platter in itself. The rice noodles provides the carbs. Tofu is the protein factor and loads of veggies provide you with the essential minerals and fiber. For a more healthier option, you can reduce the helping of the noodles and increase the veggie portion. We has a warm serving of Wonton Soup as a prelude to this wonderful meal.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Tandoori Tilapia - Ummmm....

My Whole Headless Tilapia from Jungle Jim's

I had introduced my Malaysian friend Kate in my last post. And my today's post is inspired by her. Last Christmas, Kate invited us to join them for their Christmas lunch and enthusiastically said that she is going to make "Steamed Tilapia". But I was not enthusiastic at all. It brought back very unpleasant memories. 

I was recovering after a severe bout of Hepatitis and the doctor told I can have fish but it should not be fried. Now back in the 80s, a bong mommy could not imagine, not frying a fish before putting it in a jhol. In a small town of Bihar, where electricity were available for only few hours a day, she neither had an oven nor a koylar unun/chulha (rustic coal-burning stove) nor non-stick cookware at her disposal. But she still adhered to the doc's advice. She used to marinate the fish pieces in lemon and onion juice for 15-20 min, and then wash them very well, to get rid of the asthe dondho (stinky fishy smell). Then she used to rub the fish with her spice rub of turmeric, salt, grated ginger, little cumin and then steam them. Her steamer was also innovative. She would place the fish pieces in a tight steel tiffin box and put the tiffin box in a pressure-cooker filled with water, which came halfway of the tiffin-box, and cook it till 2-3 whistles. The fish in questing was never a gourmet delight, but I used to eat it, just because my Ma had put so much effort in preparing it.

Coming back to Kate's "Steamed Tilapia", even the very experimental Sam was skeptical. But with a brave heart we went and was floored. The fish was delicate, juicy, flavorful, aromatic and NO asthe dondho. Next week, Sam brought a whole Tilapia home and asked, nay, ordered me to make Kate's Steamed Tilapia  and I obliged. And it was a Disaster.... my biggest culinary Disaster till date!!! I still cannot figure out what went wrong.... but something surely went wrong! As the fish was trashed, I vowed that Tilapia would never enter my kitchen. But as they say, "Never say Never", I found myself buying again a whole, cleaned and butterflied Tilapia. "I'll dare not steam it this time, I'll do it my Tandoori Style", I said to myself. This time I was determined to make it work and boy! how it worked!

What I needed
Tilapia Fish - Whole cleaned and butterflied
Turmeric Powder - 1 tsp
Chili Powder - ½ tsp
Salt - 1 tsp

Greek or any Thick Yogurt - 4 heaped tablespoons
Ginger - 1 tbsp grated or paste
Garlic - 1 tbsp grated or paste
Turmeric - ½ tsp
Kashmiri Lal Mirch - 1½ tsp
Garam Masala - 1 tsp
Kasoori Methi - ½ tsp
Coriander powder - ½ tsp
Shaan Fish Seasoning- 1 tsp (optional)
Sugar - 1 tsp or Honey - 1 tbsp
Salt - 1 tsp
Canola/veg oil - 1 tbsp

How I did it:

1. Clean the fish well and pat it dry with a kitchen napkin.

2. Next in a plate mix the turmeric,chili powder and salt and rub the fish very well. The turmeric will overpower any fishy smell. Keep aside while you make the marinade.

3. In a separate bowl, mix all the items listed under "Marinade" and make a thick paste.

4. Place the fish in lightly greased aluminium foil lined baking tray. Smear the marinade thickly on the fish and even on the inside as shown in the pics bellow.

5. Cover the fish with large bowl and refrigerate it for minimum 2 hrs to 4 hrs.

6. Preheat the oven at 350F. Take the fish out of the refrigerator and stand at room temperature for 30 mins,  spray a little canola or veg oil on top of the fish, before placing it in the oven.  

7. The time taken to complete the cooking process depends on oven to oven. My brilliant oven takes 45 mins to bake a cake from box mix, which otherwise takes 20-30 mins. So please use your judgement here. My oven took 1 hr 20 mins to complete cooking. After 50 mins I opened the fish, like the second marinated fish pic and let it cook on the inside for 15 mins. Then I flipped the fish and let it bake for another 10 min. All   this to ensure, that no portion is left uncooked. Since we marinated on the inside, its critical, the the inside is well cooked, or you'll taste the raw marinade while eating. Last 5 min was on Broil mode. 

Note: The sugar or honey in the marinade helps the fish to bronze up. The red color in Tandoori recipes comes from the red food color, but its my psychological whim that I do not prefer using food color in my cooking. Hence I used a little more Kashmiri Lal Mirch, to impart its red color, without the heat. In case you want to used red food color, reduce the Kashmiri Lal Mirch to ½ tsp or use ½ tsp of regular Red Chili powder, if you want it hot.

Squeeze a dash of lime on your Tandoori Tilapia and sprinkle a little Chaat Masala and you are good to go. I wish I had clicked the remains of the fish after 10 min the dish was placed on the dinner table.

Diabetic Platter: Fish is an excellent lean protein option for diabetics, Study shows that they are potent in preventing cardiovascular disease and kidney ailments, which generally diabetics are prone to. Pair it with the Raw Mango And Pepper Salad, and it leave you begging for more.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Raw Mango and Pepper Salad

I had this salad at my friend Kate's home last weekend and since then I was itching to make it myself and brag... oops! blog about it. When I walked into her deliciously smelling kitchen, I saw a neat pile of mango julienne and she was busy slicing the onions to strew over it. The combination of mangoes and onions seemed odd, but I kept quite, keeping in mind that she has surprised me in past, with more weird combination and exceptional results.

After she finished putting together the salad, I tasted it and instantly fell in love with it. The tang of the mangoes, with the sweetness of the chili pepper, and the mellowed bite of the onions with the crunch of the toasted peanut. Heavenly! "Just the salad would be my dinner", I declared. And then she opened the lids of her Chicken Jasmine Rice, Steamed Chicken in Lemongrass Chili-Garlic Black Pepper Sauce, Stir-fried Veggies in Oyster Sauce, which transported me to Malaysia and back.

Kate comes from the beautiful Borneo Islands and are dishes are authentic Malaysian. She whips up dishes in a jiffy, which are mainly steamed or stirfried, but are so packed with flavors. I had tried to recreate them in my kitchen, but with dismal result. However, this salad that I put together was as good as her, maybe because of its sheer simplicity. Kate told me this salad traditionally uses Thai Mangoes, but in US we do not get them and so both she and I settled for the Brazilian variety. She used toasted peanut, but I used walnuts. Why?? I had only walnuts in hand, that's why!

Here goes the simplest summer salad recipe.

What I used:
Firm Brazilian Mango - 1 cut into julienne
(You can use any firm semi ripe mango)
Red Onion - 1 sliced
Red Chili Pepper or
Red Bell Pepper - 1 cut into julienne
Lime/ Lemon Juice - 2 tbsp approx
(I had squeezed half a lime, and not sure how much is that, in tsp measurement.)
Walnut or peanut - a handful roasted
Salt and pepper - to taste.

How I did it:

In a large bowl, add the julienned mangoes. The mangoes should be firm and not too ripe and sweet, else the flavor of the pepper and the onions will not gel together. The mangoes should be slightly sour-slightly sweet. The one we call Kaccha-Meetha Aam. The color of the flesh should be pale yellow. If you find the color of the mangoes in the pics to be bright yellow, blame it on my lame Photoshop skills!

Next strew some onions.

Finally add the red chili peppers. You can use the red bell peppers too. Squeeze in half a lime or lemon and let it stand for 15 miniuts.The lime, will mellow the onions a bit and not let the mangoes blacken. Do not salt it at this stage, else the onions and peppers will release water and make the salad soggy.

Just before serving add salt and pepper and a handful of toasted walnut or peanut.

Diabetic Platter: This dish very refreshing salad, that we can eat in moderation. Though mangoes are not a wise fruit option for diabetics, this recipe uses semi ripe variety, which are not too sweet. So I have assumed, they are okay to be indulged in. Still, keep the portion small and use only heart healthy walnut for the crunch factor. This salad pairs very well with spicy tandoori kebabs. I served it with my Tandoori Tilapia and the combination was superb.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Old Fashioned Oatmeal Upma

Have you tried to have oatmeal without any sweetener added? They taste like dry walls and no, I haven't licked any to compare. Its just so chalky and bland, that it reminded me of dry walls. I have tried adding cinnamon, blueberries, strawberries, walnuts, vanilla milk and what not, but none could make it palatable, unless I added spoonful of Splenda. Artificial Sweeteners as you know is not very good for you, if taken regularly and hence I am trying desperately to reduce my dependency on them. 

Every human being, who watches television is aware, how good oatmeal are for you. A bowl of classic oatmeal packs a hearty dose of vitamins, protein and cholesterol-lowering soluble fiber. It is an excellent breakfast option for not only people with cholesterol issues, heart issues and diabetes, but also for everybody, wanting a slimmer waist.

For a long time, my goal was to try and have oatmeal at least thrice a week, but never succeeded. Just could not be cruel to my innocent taste buds. One day when I was fretting my bowl of not-so-yumm oatmeal, that would put Lil Sid to shame, Sam irritably said, "If you cannot make it sweet, why don't you make it savory". Wow! Now that is a cool idea and why didn't it struck to me before? So next morning, I boiled oats in water, instead of milk, added a dash of salt and some veggies. It was good, not great! 

Sam' s suggestion: Try to make it like upma. 
I did after two day; had to shop for curry leaves!
What happened when I served: Sam had the breakfast quietly and packed the remaining for his lunch and I was left eating rye bread and tea.

Here's how I made it:

What I used:

Old Fashioned Oatmeal - 1 cup
Carrots - ½ cup
Green Beans - ½ cup
Broccoli - ½ cup
Potato - ¼ cup
Oil - 1 tbsp
Salt - 1½ tsp

For the Tempering
Mustard Seed - ½ tsp
Red Chilies - 2 whole
Urad Dal - 1 tsp
Curry Leaves - 7-8 leaves
Green Chilies - 2 chopped
Onions - 1 medium chopped

Garnish: a dash of lime/lemon juice and a handful of chopped cilantro.

How I did it:

Heat the oil in the pan to just under smoking point. Add the ingredients under Tempering in order, minus the onions.

When the spices are dancing around the pan and you are hit by a heady aroma, add the onions and saute till translucent.

Add the veggies and fry till little soft and the rawness is gone.

Now add the oatmeal and fry for a minitue or so, till it gets toasted and releases a nice toasted nutty aroma.

Add the water and salt and bring to a boil. Then put it on medium heat and let it simmer till all the water is absorbed and the oats are cooked through.

When its done, add a splash of lime/lemon juice for that zing and add a chopped coriander leaves/cilantro and its ready to serve.

Note: I had used potatoes, since it was leftover form another recipe. You can avoid it, and feel free to add or substitute any veggies. Cauliflower and peas could be a great addition. 

Diabetic Platter: This dish is a wholesome breakfast in itself. I had a fruit and black coffee with it,but a no-fat yogurt and fruit would be an ideal combination.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Tuna Salad and Glucerna Shake - A Light and Zippy Lunch

There is no reason or story, why I ended up making Tuna Salad for lunch on a dull Wednesday afternoon. Last Friday, after the weekly groceries were done, I was mindlessly browsing the aisles, while Sam and Sid were busy in the checkout counter. There I saw a series of "StarKist Tuna Products", probably on sale. The fact they are in a pouch and is a single serving made it lucrative enough to get my hands itchy to hold it. Plus they are only 50 cal, no saturated fat, very high in omega 3selenium and vitamin B12 and no sugar made it easier for me to convince Sam, how badly I wanted to have it.  

Tuna is not my family's favorite fish, but I somehow have fallen for it. Though tuna steaks, marinated and baked, have featured on our dinner table and won brownie points, canned tuna is a strict no-no. The only way Sam and Sid will eat them if it is added to a spicy potato mash, egg-washed and rolled in seasoned bread crumbs and deep fried! A la Bengali Macher Chop way!

I had a busy morning and had my breakfast late. It was my yummy Oatmeal Upma, which was so filling that I wasn't even hungry by lunchtime. So it'll be just Glucerna shake for lunch. It was then, that I remembered my  StarKist Tuna, sitting pretty on my pantry for good four days. I searched the good old internet for some quick Tuna salad recipes, made some swaps, omitted some ingredients that I didn't have and made this easy-breezy salad is a jiffy. 

What I used:
StarKist Chunk Light Tuna - 2.6 oz
(1 Single serve packet)
Celery - 1 rib chopped (¼ cup)
Tomatoes - ¼ cup
Grape/ Cherry Tomatoes - 6-8 nos
Green Chilies - 1 chopped
Green Onions/ Scallions - 2 snipped

Greek Yogurt - 3 tbsp
Garlic - 1 small clove minced
Honey - 1 tsp
Dijon or Spicy Brown Mustard - 1 tsp
Cider Vinegar - 2 tsp
Extra Virgin Olive Oil - 1 tbsp

How I did it:

A spoonful of meaty and crunchy salad and a sip of the chilled shake! The day is not so dull and gloomy after all!!!

Diabetic Platter: Well, this a light salad no doubt. You can pair it with your regular meal or have it all by itself if you are not that hungry! And it can be an excellent snack as well. Low in calories but not in flavor, this light and zippy salad will surely make you feel healthy from inside. I feel fit just at looking at it!!!

P:S: This post is not an advertisement for StarKist Tuna. Any canned tuna has loads of Omega 3, Selenium and Vitamin B12. So the choice is yours.