Thursday 29 May 2014

Strawberry Cake

Expect a cake that will make you famous within your circles, Expect a cake that will truly ROCK. The soft, creamy, billowy and melt-on-your-tongue Whipped Coconut Cream is just as sexy and pleasing as the dairy whipped cream you once longed for in a special dessert. You will be emitting yummy sounds, guaranteed.
• For the Shortcake Layers:
• 2 cups (224 grams) blanched almond flour
• 1½ cups + 3 tablespoons (216 grams) arrowroot starch
• ½ cup (56 grams) organic coconut flour
• 1¼ teaspoons (6 grams) baking powder
• 1 teaspoon (4.8 grams) baking soda
• 1¼ teaspoons (6 grams) salt
• 8 large eggs
• 1½ cups + 3 tablespoons (about 560 grams) organic light agave nectar
• ¼ cup (56 grams) organic virgin coconut oil, melted, plus extra for pans
• ¼ cup (60 grams) organic ghee, melted
• 4 teaspoons (20ml) pure vanilla extract

• 2 pounds (908 grams) fresh strawberries, sorted, rinsed, sliced (about 4 cups)
• 1 recipe (1 cup) • Or, 1 cup favorite no sugar added strawberry jam
• 1 tablespoon (15ml) Grand Marnier
• • For the Whipped Coconut Cream:
• 4 (13.5 ounce/400ml) cans full-fat coconut milk, chilled 8 hours or overnight
• 2 tablespoons (25 grams) organic granulated cane sugar or honey crystals optional
• 1 cup fresh whole blackberries
• 1 cup fresh whole blueberries
• 1 cup fresh whole raspberries
• 1 cup fresh whole strawberries
Prepare the Shortcake Layers: Arrange oven rack in center of oven and preheat oven to 325ยบ F. Grease two 8-inch round cake pans. Line bottoms with wax paper circles and grease paper lining. If using insulated cake strips, don’t forget to prepare the pans per manufacturer’s directions. In a large bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.
Using an electric stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, or handheld mixer and large bowl, beat eggs on medium speed until blended and bubbly. Add agave nectar, melted coconut oil and ghee, and vanilla; beat on medium speed for approximately 2 minutes. Mixture should be bubbly on top. Reduce speed to low (stir) and gradually add flour mixture blending until no lumps remain and well combined. Scrape down bowl as necessary with rubber spatula. Allow mixture to stand for a full 5 minutes. This will allow the flours to absorb the liquids. The batter will be noticeably thicker. After letting the batter stand, give it a good stir. With a rubber spatula, scrape and pour batter into two prepared pans, dividing evenly (about 1½ cups or about 375ml per pan). Smooth tops evenly with rubber spatula. Place pans on doubled up half-sheet baking sheets and carefully place in center of rack in oven.
Bake in center of preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on wire rack for 5 minutes. (Waiting any longer will just cause the cake to stick to the pan.) Immediately, run a thin metal spatula around the perimeter to loosen cakes from sides of pans. Invert onto wire rack (I like to grease my nonstick wire racks with coconut oil to prevent sticking). Turn right side up onto wire racks (using an additional rack to flip); cool completely. Meanwhile, wash and dry the pans, grease and line them as above, and repeat to bake the remaining batter. Should you have a tiny bit of remaining batter left over, consider baking a small cupcake separately.
Prepare the Strawberries & Jam Filling: In a medium bowl, have sliced strawberries ready for cake layering. You will need about 4 cups; 1 cup per layer. In a small bowl, place the jam. If desired, stir orange liqueur into the jam blending well. You will need 1 cup; ¼ cup or 4 tablespoons per layer. Set aside until ready to assemble cake.
Prepare the Whipped Coconut Cream: Carefully open chilled cans of coconut milk without shaking to disturb the contents. Scrape the thick coconut cream, about ¾ cup per can, into chilled bowl of an electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Reserve the remaining coconut water for another use. With mixer speed on low, add preferred natural sweetener and mix until incorporated. Increase mixer speed to medium-high, then high, and continue to beat until the coconut cream holds soft peaks, about 3 minutes. You will need about 3 cups; about ¾ cup per layer.
Assemble & Ice the Cake: Place one cake layer onto serving plate, platter or cake pedestal or stand in the center. With icing spatula, spread about ¾ cup of the Whipped Coconut Cream over top of cake to cover; then spoon and drizzle ¼ cup (4 tablespoons) of Strawberry Jam Filling on top. Place about 1 cup of fresh sliced strawberries over the jam filling with some around the perimeter to peek out, if desired, for a pretty presentation. Repeat this process for two more cake layers.
For top layer, place final cake layer on top and spread with ¾ cup Whipped Coconut Cream over top of cake to cover; then spoon and drizzle ¼ cup (4 tablespoons) of strawberry jam filling on top. Arrange several whole strawberries on top of cake in center and place remaining sliced strawberries decoratively on top around them—perhaps even some standing upward on end.
To Decorate the Cake: Adorn cake with fresh mint leaves and whole berries (blackberries, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries), on top and sides of cake as well as at the base of the cake on the cake plate.
To Store the Cake: Keep cake covered and stored in refrigerator until ready to slice and serve.
To Slice & Serve the Cake: Slice the chilled cake with a thin sharp knife. Use a cake server to transfer slices of cake to dessert plates. Serve immediately or allow cake slices to sit out at room temperature to soften.

Wednesday 28 May 2014

Kadai Chicken / Homemade Kadai Chicken Recipe

Kadai Chicken is a very famous non-veg delight in restaurants. This spicy & yummy North Indian recipe tastes juicy with distinct flavor of bell pepper. Kadai Chicken is one of the popular Non-Vegetarian menu in Indian Restaurants. This Kadai Chicken & Butter Chicken are our constant NV menu order along with Tandoori Roti or naan. This is a curry like side dish in which chicken is cooked in a spicy tomato gravy and capsicum. The capsicum gives unique flavor to this chicken curry. This is a very simple and easy to make chicken curry which is so flavorful and delicious. I am happy with the outcome and we all loved it. You can serve this kadai chicken with Rotis / Paratha / Poori / Naan / Pulao.
• Chicken 1lb /450 gm
• Capsicum 1medium sized (diced)
• Onion 1/2 cup (finely chopped)
• Tomato 1large (finely chopped)
• Tomato Puree 1/2-3/4 cup
• Ginger Garlic Paste 1-2 tsp
• Chili Powder 1/2tsp+1/2 tsp(to marinate)
• Turmeric Powder 1/4 tsp
• Salt to taste
• Cilantro few finely chopped
• Ginger 1" julienned (to garnish)
• Oil 1tbsp+1/2 tsp
• Cumin seeds 1/4 tsp

• Dry Red chili 5 no.s
• Coriander seeds 1 tbsp
• Pepper corns 1/2 tsp or less
• Fennel seeds 1/4 tsp
• Cumin seeds 1/4 tsp
• Kasoori Methi/Dry Methi leaves 1/2 tsp

• Wash chicken pieces, drain and marinate with turmeric powder and chilli powder and keep aside.
• Heat a pan/kadai, when its heated add fry red chilli, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, cumin seeds, pepper corns and roast for a minutes and lastly add dry methi leaves stir and remove from the stove.
• Allow to cool for a while then grind it to a coarse powder and keep aside.
• Heat 1/2 tsp oil in same pan, stir fry diced capsicum for 1-2 minutes and keep aside.
• Now heat oil in a wok, add cumin seeds allow to splutter then add finely chopped onions and saute for 2-3 minutes.
• Then add ginger garlic paste, sprinkle little salt and saute until raw smell leaves.
• And then add chopped tomatoes and tomato puree and cook till oil leaves and moisture dries.
• After that add 1/2 of the ground kadai masala and stir fry for a minute.
• Then add chicken pieces, remaining 1/2 of ground kadai masala, turmeric powder and stir for 3-4 minutes and add 1/2 cup - 3/4 cup water, enough salt and cook for 15-20 minutes with lid closed or until chicken gets cooked well.
• After that open the lid, turn heat to medium high and cook for another 1-2 minutes and add stir fried capsicum and mix well.
• Let it simmer for another 1 minute and switch off the stove.
• That's it...Delicious Kadai Chicken ready. Garnish with finely chopped cilantro and ginger julienne.

Tuesday 27 May 2014

Fried Soy Sauce Noodles

Last evening I was very tired after long hours of shopping. When we returned home, it was almost time for dinner. So I planned to prepare something which doesn’t make me spend lot of time in the kitchen. At that moment, all I could think of is none other than Soy Sauce fried noodles. Here comes the recipe of the tasty and spicy Indian style noodles. Egg noodles are fried together with a small bunch of bean sprouts, chives, and more importantly premium soy sauces. In my kitchen, as always, I have roughly doubled the amount of bean sprouts. The end result is having bites of noodles with a little more crunchiness and sweetness. I also like the garlic flavor from the chives. However, you may skip it for a lighter taste or simply replaced them by a few cloves of garlic, crushed, for the aroma, and some garnishing green onions (scallion), sliced, for the colour. Have fun with your variations to whip up this simple and quick vegetarian dish!
  • 200g fresh egg noodles
  • 100g bean sprouts, trimmed heads and tails
  • 40g chives, cut into about 5cm length
  • 1/4 from large onion
  • shredded ginger
  • 2 shallots, sliced
  • sesame seeds, toasted for garnish
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp raw sugar
  • 2 tsp oyster sauce
  • sesame oil, to taste
1. Combine all the ingredients of sauce well til the sugar is dissolved completely. Set aside
2. Blanch the noodles in boiling water for about 1 to 2 minutes. Don’t over cook it as you don’t want your noodles turn mushy. Use a pair of chopsticks to help loosen the noodles. Drain well. Set aside
3. Heat oil in a wok over high heat. Quickly stir fry the bean sprouts and chives until slightly softened. Dish up and set aside
4. Add oil in the same wok. Saute the onion until translucent. Make sure not to burn it. Push the onion to the sides of wok. Add more oil in the middle. Saute the ginger and shallot. Toss in the noodles. When the noodles are heated enough, sprinkle the sauce in and combine the noodles well. When you’re satisfied with the colour and taste. Toss back the bean sprouts and chives. Quickly combine well. Dish up. Top with some sesame seeds for garnish. Serve immediately.
If you use fresh egg noodles, briefly blanch them in hot water to soften a bit and to remove the starchy coating, if any. Whichever type is used, do not over-boil them, otherwise they will break easily while being stir-fried.
It is important to drain excess water from the noodles. Wet noodles easily lump together and are not good for stir-frying.
There is a lot of flexibility with this recipe. Add some of your favourite veggies to the mix. Toss it with prawns, chicken or even some pulled pork. Top it with a soft boiled egg, some toasted nuts or sesame seeds. Either way it will be delicious!

Monday 26 May 2014

Baby Food Recipes (Apple Puree And Sweet Potato and Chickpea Puree Recipe)

The puree is smooth, velvety and packed with nutrients, including beta-carotene and antioxidants from the sweet potato, plus minerals, fibre and healthy carbohydrates from the chickpeas. Making your own baby food is easy, efficient, and economical. Instead of spending money on prepackaged baby food, you can use fresh produce, grains, and meat that you have on hand. Best of all, you'll know exactly what you're feeding your baby. These purees tend to be popular with baby because they are smooth, mild-flavoured, and slightly sweet. Remember to thin them down to an almost liquid consistency for baby’s first few meals. Baking the sweet potato caramelises the natural sugars in the potato giving it a rich, sweet flavor. You can also steam the cubed peeled sweet potato in a steamer basket for 20 to 25 minutes or until very tender.

  • 20 minutes
  • Freezer safe
  • Makes 11/2 cups
Once your baby has tried apple puree on its own a few times, give her a mealtime vitamin boost by adding squash. Summer squashes, such as patty pan, crookneck, and zucchini, make good starter vegetables--mild and digestible, they offer many vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin A, magnesium, and potassium.
  1. 2 apples summer squash or zucchini, optional 1 Bring 1 inch (2.5 cm) water to a boil in a pot. Quarter and core the apples, but leave the peels on. Trim the squash and cut into 1-inch (2.5-cm) chunks. Place the apple quarters and squash chunks in a steamer basket and set it in the pot. Cover and steam until both are tender when pierced with a knife, 12 minutes.
  2.  Let cool, reserving the cooking liquid. Scrape the apple flesh from the skins and puree the apple and squash in a food processor or blender until smooth. Add reserved cooking liquid to thin the puree to a texture your baby can handle. Check the temperature and serve.
  3.  To store, refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 days, or spoon into ice-cube trays or other freezer containers and freeze, covered, for up to 6 months.

  • 1 small, cooked sweet potato
  • 2 tbsp chickpeas
  • 1 tbsp milk
1. You can use dried or canned chickpeas. Dried chickpeas need to be boiled until tender, according to the directions on the packaging. If you use canned chickpeas, look for the no-salt or reduced sodium varieties. If you're unable to find them, then rinse the chickpeas thoroughly before use (you can also slip off the skins if you wish).
2. Preparation is easy peas - simply puree the ingredients together.
3. If you chose to leave the skins on the chickpeas, then the mixture will take a little longer to blend to a perfectly smooth texture.
4. The resulting puree will be fairly thick - for a lighter, more 'whipped' texture, add more milk.
5. Serve warm or cold. Leftovers may be refrigerated for up to 48 hours or frozen for up to one month. We recommend thinning the puree AFTER it's thawed if necessary, otherwise it may be too runny on thawing.

Friday 23 May 2014

Vanilla Almond and Honey Ice Cream Homemade Recipe

While ice cream is readily available in the freezer cases of grocery store and specialty stores, homemade ice cream is in a world of its own. When you make your own, you combine fresh, rich ingredients with the flavorings and add-ins of your choice, for a delectable experience. If you own an electric or hand operated ice cream freezer, making your own ice cream can be fun and easy. Who doesn't love ice creams? Homemade ice cream is very simple to make and tastes great. You do not need an ice cream maker to prepare ice cream at home. This basic vanilla ice cream is made with easily available ingredients and is very simple to prepare. You can also use this recipe as a base for making other ice creams by adding different flavor. Today we will see how to make vanilla ice-cream Almond and honey ice cream at home.

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1/3 cup local honey
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped almonds
1. Pre-freeze your ice cream container thingy for about 18 hours.
2. Slice the vanilla bean down the center lengthwise with a paring knife and scrape out the seeds inside.
3. In a saucepan, add the cream, milk, 1/4 cup sugar, vanilla beans, pod, salt and honey. Whisk the mixture and bring it a very light simmer, 5 – 10 minutes.
4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Slowly whisk about 1 cup of the milk mixture into the bowl, tempering the eggs so they don’t scramble on you. Whisk until smooth, 30 seconds. Pour egg mixture back into the saucepan and continue to lightly simmer on medium-low until it has thickened, another 10 minutes. Remove vanilla bean pods and discard.

5. Pour the egg/milk mixture into a large bowl and let cool about 20 minutes, until it’s no longer steaming.
6. Pour one cup of the mixture into a smaller bowl and cover both bowls with plastic wrap. Stick the small bowl in the freezer and the larger bowl in the fridge and let completely cool, about 3 hours. Don’t even ask me why we do this. It’s that science thing or whatever.
7. Bring both bowls back out and scrape the smaller (more frozen) custard into the larger bowl. Stir until fully dissolved and combined.
8. At this point, you’ll put the ice cream frozen container thingy back on the machine and turn it on. Pour the mixture into the container and watch the machine works its magic. It will probably churn about 25 minutes, so at the 20-minute mark, add the chopped almonds. The machine will do the churning and mixing, so you can go ahead and pour yourself a drink.
9. At this point it will be sort of like soft serve, so if that’s your bag, eat! We bought a little quart-sized white container to store our ice cream in, so that we’d feel cool.
10. Garnish with lavender blossoms, more honey, more chopped almonds, chocolate, whatever

Thursday 22 May 2014

Uses and Benefits of Olive Oil

The problem with a lot of commercial skincare products is that the moisturising ingredients don't penetrate the skin. Extra virgin olive oil is composed of more than 80 percent oleic acid. This substance easily penetrates the skin, and allows the oil to heal damage, reduce wrinkles and improve texture. The health benefits of olive oil are extensive with new positive attributes discovered all the time. One prominent cardiologist recommends at least two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil each day to enjoy the many ways olive oil can be beneficial to your health and well being.

• Help you to stay healthier into old age – The Mediterranean Diet has been proven to be one of the healthiest in the world. Some consider it the healthiest. Olive oil has always been an integral part of the Mediterranean Diet. Although red wine and lots of fish, whole grains, fruits and vegetables also play a huge part in the diet’s success, scientists agree that it wouldn’t be nearly as beneficial without olive oil.
• Keep your lips soft and supple – Make your own lip balm by combining olive oil with equal parts beeswax. Put it into a small glass jar and apply it with your fingertip. Try using Robbins Family Farm Eve’s Mandarin Orange Blend olive oil for a lip balm that is both helpful and tasty!
• Clean sensitive skin – The Ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans had no soap and didn’t miss it thanks to olive oil. They massaged olive oil into their skin, then scraped it back off, along with dirt and dead skin. Today, a wide variety of soaps, including some made from olive oil, are available. Yet many people still prefer to clean their skin with pure olive oil.

• Reduce bad cholesterol levels – Olive oil contains poly phenols, which help to keep your levels of LDL cholesterol within healthy ranges.
• Condition your hair – Ancient beauties and warriors alike used olive oil to tame and beautify their locks. Olive oil strengthens hair and makes it more flexible.
• Smooth and moisturise rough, dry feet – Make a foot scrub of equal parts olive oil and honey, a third part sugar and a dash of lemon juice. Soak your feet in warm water, then massage the moisture into them. Follow up by moisturising your feet and hands with a well-shaken water and olive oil emulsion.
• Combine with butter for a healthier bread spread – In a mixing bowl, combine one part softened butter and one part olive oil. Mix on low until the oil is whipped into the butter. Refrigerate and use it as you would butter.
• Remove makeup – Apply olive oil to a cotton ball and gently wipe your makeup off your face. You can safely use olive oil near your eyes.
• Help you create delicious, healthy baked goods – Olive oil is commonly used in baking in the Mediterranean. Use a lighter-coloured, lighter tasting end-of-season version for desserts.
• Combine with herbs, spices, garlic or citrus juices to make your taste buds pop – Infuse EVOO with herbs for dipping sauces. Experiment with adding garlic alone or in combination with herbs, spices, vinegars or lemon or other citrus juices.
• Reduce the appearance of stretch marks – Combine equal parts cocoa butter and olive oil for a stretch-mark minimiser.
• Turn or bath into a spa – Add olive oil to your bath the way you would use any bath oil. Experiment with using different essential oils to scent it.
• Remove sap or tar from your skin – Apply olive oil to the sticky spot, then rub gently until the residue is removed. Wipe the oil off your hands.
• Shine household surfaces – Appliances, faucets, stainless steel and laminate surfaces all benefit from a light coating of olive oil and a gentle buffing.

Rava Idli Recipe

Idlis are one healthy & nutritious food. They are steamed as well as low fat. Being fermented they are good for the body too. They also make a nice gluten free breakfast or brunch. So do try making these idlis. They grind more easily than soaked rice and also yield soft, fluffy idlis. i also made idlis with cooked rice or left over rice and these idlis were also good. Rava idli is a variation of the popular South Indian breakfast item, idli, made with rava(semolina). Rava idli is served hot and is to be eaten along with Coconut chutney. A dash of ghee poured on the top of Rava Idli adds to the overall taste. They are the softest idlis i have ever made. i always follow the same method of making idli, as mentioned in this idli recipe.
• 1 cup sooji/rava/semolina/cream of wheat
• ½ cup yogurt, fresh or sour
• a pinch of baking soda
• 2.5 to 3 tbsp water or more - add accordingly & as required to get a medium consistency batter, which is neither thick nor thin.
• 1 green chili, chopped
• ½ inch ginger, finely chopped
• 10-12 cashews, chopped
• 2 to 3 tsp ghee or oil for roasting the rava
• 1 tsp oil for frying the cashews
• salt as required

• 1-2 tsp oil
• 1 tsp mustard seeds
• 1 tsp chana dal
• 10-12 curry leaves, chopped
• a pinch of asafetida
1. Heat 2 tsp ghee or oil in a pan. add the rava/sooji and roast in the ghee or oil till they become aromatic and change color.
2. Keep on stirring often when roasting them. remove the roasted rava in a mixing bowl and keep aside.
3. In the same pan, heat 1 tsp oil again and fry the cashews in the ghee.
4. Remove and add the fried cashews to the rava in the mixing bowl.
5. In the same pan, add 1 tsp oil more and heat it.
6. Splutter mustard seeds. then add chana dal, curry leaves & asafoetida. fry till the chana dal become golden.
7. Then add this whole mixture to the roasted rava. add curd/yogurt along with chopped ginger, green chilies and salt.
8. Add water as required and make a batter which is neither thin nor thick.
9. Keep aside covered for 20-30 mins.
10. Heat water in a steamer, electric cooker or pressure cooker.
11. Just before steaming, add baking soda in the batter and mix well.
12. Pour the rava idli batter in greased idli moulds.
13. Place the idli stand in the electric cooker, steamer or pressure cooker steam the rava idlis for 10-12 mins or more till a tooth pick inserted in the idlis come out clean.
14. Remove the rava idlis from the mould and serve the steaming hot rava idlis hot with idli podi or with your favorite coconut chutney and sambar.

Sunday 18 May 2014

Vanilla Cupcakes

If you are a vanilla fan, you are going to love these. There are 4 ways I included vanilla flavor today: vanilla beans, vanilla extract, vanilla yogurt, and vanilla almond milk. Don’t worry, the only two very important ones are the vanilla extract and vanilla beans. Feel free to use regular yogurt and milk if you need to. Today’s easy cupcakes are sweetened with sugar, left moist and soft from butter and yogurt, and their color remains impeccably white from using 2 egg whites. The presence of an egg yolk made these cupcakes a bit too yellow, so I subbed an egg white the second time I made these today. Feel free to use regular yogurt and milk if you need to.
• 1 and 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
• 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 cup granulated sugar
• 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
• 2 egg whites
• 1/4 cup vanilla greek yogurt (or plain; or regular yogurt; or even sour cream)
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• seeds scraped from 1/2 split vanilla bean

• 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
• 4-5 cups powdered (confectioners') sugar
• 1/4 cup heavy cream
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• seeds scraped from 1/2 split vanilla bean
• salt, to taste
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tin with 12 cupcake liners. Set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt butter in the microwave. Stir in sugar - mixture will be gritty. Stir in egg whites, yogurt, milk, and vanilla extract until combined. Split 1 vanilla bean down the middle lengthwise. Scrape seeds from half of the vanilla bean into batter. Reserve other half.
3. Slowly mix dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until no lumps remain. Batter will be thick.
4. Divide batter among 12 cupcake liners (or 24 mini) and bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Bake for 8-9 minutes if making mini cupcakes. Allow to cool.
5. To make the frosting, beat softened butter on medium speed with an electric or stand mixer. Beat for about 3 minutes until smooth and creamy. Add powdered sugar, cream, vanilla extract, and vanilla bean seeds with the mixer running. Increase to high speed and beat for 3 minutes. Add more powdered sugar if frosting is too thin or more cream if mixture is too thick. Add salt if frosting is too sweet (1/4 teaspoon). Frost cooled cupcakes. There may be leftover frosting depending how much you use on each cupcake.
6. Store cupcakes in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days and in the refrigerator up to 7.

Thursday 15 May 2014

Homemade Naan- Indian Flat Bread

Naan may be made in different flavors; garlic, spices, herbs or whatever you can think of. They can also be stuffed with vegetable or meat. Once you get the hang of making a basic Naan, you can try out all the possibilities out there. There are numerous ways to enjoy them. Naan wraps/rolls, Naan pizza and Naan-wich have become quite popular in the contemporary fusion cuisine. Make some and find your own way to love them! As in all cuisines, bread is an integral part of Indian cuisine. Naan, is a leavened oven baked flat bread, usually made in the northern regions of India, although it is known to be served in most Indian restaurants in the country and all over the world. Naan complements a main dish, but if you are like me, you can also eat it plain, indulgently patted over with ghee or butter.
• 4 cups all-purpose flour or 1/2 all-purpose and 1/2 whole wheat pastry flour
• 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 tablespoon sugar
• 1/4 cup hot water (but not boiling, just hot tap water)
• 3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
• 3/4 cup warm milk
• 1 cup greek yogurt
• melted butter for brushing (may use olive oil)
• fresh cilantro or other herbs for topping

• In a medium size bowl, or 4 cup glass measuring cup, dissolve the sugar in the warm water (about 105 degree F). Add the dry yeast to the warm water and stir until the yeast is dissolved. Let it sit for 10 minutes or until the mixture begins to froth and rise.
• When the yeast is foamy and smells like bread add the warm milk and yogurt. Pour the wet ingredients right into the middle of the dry and begin mixing the wet with dry using a wooden spatula. When the dough is about to come together, use your hands to finish mixing. As soon as it comes together, stop kneading. It should be sticky, but should form a ball and be soft. Cover the bowl with a damp towel or plastic wrap and let sit in a warm place 1 hour or if not using right away overnight in the fridge.
• When ready to cook divide the dough into 8 equal balls and using a rolling pin, roll each piece of dough into an oval shape. It should be about 6-8 inches long and about 1/4-inch thick, but no thinner. Repeat this method with the rest of the dough.
• Warm a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat (you want a hot pan). Brush both sides of the naan with melted butter and if desired sprinkle on any spices you like such as cumin and garlic. Place the naan on the hot skillet, cover with a lid and bake for 1 minute, until you see bubbles starting to form. Flip and cook for 1-2 minutes on the other side, until large toasted spots appear on the underside. Brush with a bit more butter if desired, then sprinkle with a little kosher salt, fresh cilantro (I used cilantro) or other herbs. Place the naan in a tea towel-lined dish. Repeat with the rest of the naans and serve. These are best eaten fresh, but will keep in a ziplock bag for a few days or in the freezer.

Benefits of Aloe Vera

This magical plant is used for the treatment of various kinds of diseases and illness. This wonderful plant is full of antioxidants, also known as natural immunity enhancers, which help to fight free radicals in the body. The dried gel of aloe Vera is used to treat diabetes as it helps to lower blood sugar level. Smooth and glowing skin can be achieved easily by rubbing aloe Vera gel on the face. Aloe Vera lightens the skin and helps to alleviate sun tanning and hyper pigmentation. The essential nutrients and vitamins found in aloe Vera makes it an indispensable material for shampoos and conditioner. These vitamins and minerals aid in restoring hair’s strength and beauty. When combined with oils like coconut and jojoba oil, aloe Vera can make a revitalizing shampoo.

Weight Loss: Improving your digestion, and detoxifying your will have a secondary effect in promoting weight loss because when we start to improve our digestion we naturally eliminate more efficiently, which is a primary way they we detoxify – through our bowels. This will lighten our toxic load on the body and will give us more energy.
Great for the Skin: Because of aloe’s well-known healing properties for the skin, aloe is one of the primary compounds used in the cosmetic industry. It is a known vulnerary, (meaning it helps heal wounds) and is great for applying topically to burns, abrasions, psoriasis and even to bug bites. Aloe acts as an analgesic, acting to help relieve pain of wounds. It’s feels especially good to cut a stem of aloe, place it in the fridge and rub it on sun burnt skin – the immediate soothing effect feels like an absolute lifesaver. Aloe is also an antipruritic: A substance that relieves or prevents itching. Aloe Vera is an astringent: which causes the contraction of body tissues, typically used to reduce bleeding from minor abrasions. Due to aloe’s high water content (over 99% water) it is a great way to hydrate, moisturize and rejuvenate the skin and fits within my general guideline: “Don’t put anything on your skin that you wouldn’t eat!” Aloe increases the elasticity of the skin making it more flexible through collagen and elastin repair. Aloe is an emollient, helping to soften and soothe the skin. It helps supply oxygen to the skin cells, increasing the strength and synthesis of skin tissue and induces improved blood flow to the skin through capillary dilation.
Boost the Immune System: I think given the stresses of our daily lives, every one can use a boost to their immune systems. The polysaccharides in aloe Vera juice stimulate macrophages, which are the white blood cells of your immune system that fight against viruses. Aloe is also an immune enhancer because of its high level of anti-oxidants, which help combat the unstable compounds known as free-radicals, contributing to the aging process. (Free radicals are a bi-product of life itself, it is a naturally occurring process but we can overload ourselves with unnecessary free-radicals by living an unhealthy lifestyle) Aloe is also an antipyretic which means it used to reduce or prevent fever.
Detoxification: Aloe Vera is a gelatinous plant food, just like seaweeds and chia. The main benefit to consuming gelatinous plant foods in your diet is that these gels move through the intestinal tract absorbing toxins along the way and get eliminated through the colon. This will help the proper elimination of waste from your body and help the detoxification of your body.

Digestion: Poor digestion is related to many diseases. A properly functioning digestive tract is one of the keys and foundations of health. Aloe is known to soothe and cleanse the digestive tract and help improve digestion. The interesting thing about taking aloe internally is that, because it is an adaptive, it helps with either constipation or diarrhea, helping to regulate your elimination cycles in whatever way you need. It’s been a great remedy for people with problems such as irritable bowel syndrome as well as acid reflux. Aloe also helps to decrease the amount of unfriendly bacteria and in our gut keeping your healthy intestinal flora in balance. Aloe is also a febrifuge, which means it helps to rid the body of intestinal worms.
Hair Treatments: Aloe Vera is also used in dandruff treatment. The natural enzymes found in aloe Vera soothe and moisturize the scalp that helps to eliminate the scalp dryness that causes dandruff. Thus its anti-fungal properties alleviate dandruff problem. Aloe Vera is a great conditioning agent that restores the hair’s shine and luster, and leaves the hair silky and smooth. The gel like substance found in aloe Vera leaves is similar to keratin in chemical composition. This enables it to penetrate easily along the scalp. The scalp absorbs the benefits of aloe Vera up to 7 layers deep and provides deep conditioning to the scalp. Aloe Vera gel also repairs dry and damaged hair in a short span of time. Aloe Vera contains a good amount of protein which is necessary for maintaining the good health of the hair.

Wednesday 14 May 2014

Soft- Sponge Dosa Recipe

Among the myriad varieties of dosas, a special mention must be made of Attukula dosa which also goes by the name of ‘Sponge Dosa’ because of its soft and spongy character. Friends who have tasted this dosa for the first time at our home have asked for the recipe. Sponge dosas are light and soft in the center with a slight crisp along the edges, simple yet delicious. Rice, rice flakes (poha/attukulu) and fenugreek seeds are soaked in sour buttermilk overnight and ground to a smooth paste, the next morning. Unlike the masala dosa, here the dosa batter is not made into a large concentric circle on the tava. Ladleful of batter is poured on a hot tava to spread on its own, covered with lid and cooked to a soft and spongy texture. I simply followed the recipe from a cookbook. Its a long time wish for me to try this and today I tried and was satisfied with the results. There are so many sponge dosa recipes out there in the blog world,and here is another simple version! It was too spongy and was good enough even when cooled down! Dosa is one of my favourite breakfast and I love making different varieties of dosas. This dosa will be very soft and spongy and stays like that even after 4-5 hours of preparation. It tastes great with tomato chutney.
  • Rice – 2 cup
  • Aval / Poha – ¼ cup
  • Buttermilk / More – 4 cups
  • Baking Soda – ½ tsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil for frying
  • fenugreek seeds
  • Soak rice, poha in buttermilk overnight. In the morning add it to the blender, (if there is lots of buttermilk left please drain it, a little amount is not a problem).
  • Blend it into a smooth paste. Add enough water to make into smooth batter. The batter should be little bit thinner than the dosa batter.
  • Now add in salt and baking soda and mix well.
  • Heat a pan. Try to use non stick. Pour a ladleful of the batter in it, don’t spread the batter..It will spread automatically.
  • Drizzle some oil around the sides. Cover it with a tight fitting lid and let it cook for a min.
  • Now there will be small holes formed over the top. Remove and Serve.
  • Tomatoes - 3 large chopped
  • Garlic - 10 cloves
  • Dry Red Chilli - 4
  • Salt to taste
  • Sugar to taste
  • For Seasoning:
  • Oil - 1 tablespoon
  • Mustard Seeds / Kaduku - 1/2 tsp
  • Urad dal / Ulundu Paruppu - 1/2 tsp
  • Cumin Seeds / Jeerakam - 1/2 tsp
  • Curry Leaves - a sprig
  • Take tomatoes, garlic and chillies in a blender and puree them.
  • Heat oil in a kadai. Add in the seasoning ingredients and let them sizzle.
  • Now add in the pureed tomato mix and add in salt and sugar. Cook till oil separates from it
  • Now add in some water and bring it to a boil.
  • Serve with idly or dosa.

Tuesday 13 May 2014

Benefits Of Fenugreek Seeds

Fenugreek is a herb and is widely used as a spice in cooking in Asia and southeastern Europe. It gives a distinct flavor to the food. It is an annual plant with lush leaves. It is grown mostly India, central and South America, and Africa. The seeds are brown in colour and are a rich source of proteins, carbohydrates, vitamin A, C, calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron and minerals.

 It is the 4-hydroxyisoleucine component of the seeds that stimulate the secretion of insulin which lowers blood sugar. It also slows down the digestive process which reduces sugar absorption. It reduces insulin resistance of cells. Recommended dose for diabetes is 500 mg of fenugreek two times a day.
 Research show that regular consumption of Fenugreek lowers cholesterol level. Reduces the level of LDL cholesterol significantly if used for a period of six months. It reduces the risk of heart attack by lowering cholesterol level. The powdered seeds can be taken as capsule or sprinkled over the food.
It reduces the risk of heart attack by lowering cholesterol level. The seed contains galactomannon which is a natural soluble fibber and it lowers cardiovascular disease. Recommended dose is two ounces of the seed throughout the day.
Fenugreek seeds helps with arthritis pain due to its anti-inflammatory properties. Seeds can be eaten mixed with food or taken as a capsule. It can be applied as a paste over the joints to relieve pain.
 It can reduce fever. It is really effective when taken with lemon and honey. To treat a fever, take one to two teaspoons of the seeds three times a day mixed with a teaspoon of honey and lemon juice. It can be taken as tea, which can be found in some health food stores.
For hair growth, the powdered seeds can be taken with food or applied to the scalp. One capsule three times a day or one teaspoon three times daily. Soak the powdered seeds in water and mix it coconut oil, then apply to the scalp. Keep it for one hour or two, then wash it off. It promotes new hair growth and gives the hair a shiny, healthy look.
This herb contains phyto-estrogen, which boosts milk production in lactating mothers. Several researchers have concluded that fenugreek can increase milk production by over 500% within 72 hours! A recommended remedy to increase milk production is to consume one capsule of fenugreek seeds three times a day. You should stop taking the herb once you’ve achieved the desired level of milk production. Fenugreek tea is well known to stimulate uterine contraction, which helps to speed up and ease childbirth. However, pregnant women should use this remedy for only after consulting with their doctor.
Fenugreek aids in the prevention and treatment of painful kidney stones. It reduces calcification in the kidney and flushes it out through urine.

Fenugreek seeds are an amazing liver detoxifier. They purify the blood and prevent clotting of blood. It also benefits people suffering from hypertension.
Fenugreek supports glucose and carbohydrate metabolism to aid weight loss. Soak fenugreek seeds in water and consume it every morning in an empty stomach to burn excess fat in the body. The seeds are rich in fibre which swells in the body thereby, making a person feel full. Take this remedy 30 minutes before every meal to avoid overeating.
Mix fenugreek paste with milk and apply it on the skin. This paste will improve the complexion and will minimize the appearance of fine lines. You can also use this paste on the under eye area to eliminate dark circles. Apply it on the under eye area and wash it off after 15 minutes.
Fenugreek is a natural treatment for hair fall issues. It curbs scalp diseases related to hair follicles to make the hair strands strong from the roots. Mix coconut oil with methi paste and apply it on the scalp and hair. Leave it for one hour and wash it off properly so that the paste does not get stuck in the hair. This will control your hair fall to a great extent.
Rinse your hair with fenugreek soaked water to get smooth and manageable hair. Its natural moisturising and conditioning properties nourishes the hair follicles to repair damaged hair.
This spice contains an emulsifying compound called lecithin which conditions our hair and makes it shiny and lustrous. The seeds, when crushed create mucilage, a greasy substance that makes the hair soft and silky. This quality makes fenugreek a valuable addition to natural leave-in and rinse out conditioner. Using fenugreek alone or in conjunction with any hair product can do the trick.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Roasted red pepper hummus is a twist to the traditional Middle Eastern classic recipe, ‘Hummus‘. The roasted red peppers give a beautiful orange color to the hummus and lend a sweet and smoky flavor to the hummus. Tahini aka sesame seeds paste, chickpeas, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil are the key components of the basic hummus recipe. Try to avoid using store bought canned beans or tahini paste as nothing beats home made hummus made from scratch. Freshly ground roasted cumin powder adds depth to the hummus. You can tweak the spices to suit your palate. Serve the creamy textured and vibrant colored roasted red pepper hummus with pita bread/naan or as a dip with tortilla chips or fresh raw vegetables like cucumber, bell peppers, celery stick and carrots. A healthy appetizer or snack that you will be making again and again. There is no dearth of healthy vegetarian recipes that are nutritious, easy to prepare and delicious. I use farm fresh vegetables in my daily cooking and try to incorporate low fat cooking techniques as much as possible. Roasted red pepper hummus falls under the category of healthy vegetarian recipes, one that is low fat, easy to make and not to mention, delicious.
• 1 1/4 cup chickpeas, wash and soak in 3 cups water and a tsp of baking soda overnight
• Sesame seeds - 1/4 cup
• Olive oil - 5 tbsps
• Red bell peppers - 2
• Lemon juice - 4 tbsps
• Garlic -2, roast in a tsp of olive oil and lighty crush
• Cayenne pepper - 1/2 tsp (red chili powder or paprika can be used in its place)
• Roasted cumin powder - 1/2 tsp
• Roasted coriander powder - 1/2 tsp (optional)
• Salt to taste

• Place a skewer into each of the red bell peppers and roast over low flame till the skin is charred or blackened. Allow the red pepper to roast all over. Turn off heat and place them in a zip lock bag for 15 mts. Once they cool down, the skin will easily peel off. Place the peeled roasted peppers in a bowl and keep aside.
Pressure cook chick peas along with the water up to 4 whistles or until soft. Turn off heat and bring to room temperature. Drain the chick peas and keep aside. Reserve the water also.
• Dry roast sesame seeds on low flame for 6 mts and turn off flame.
• Heat a small pan, add 2 tsps olive oil and roast garlic for a mt till light brown. Turn off heat and cool.
• In a mixer grinder, add garlic, sesame sesame seeds and olive oil and grind to a fine paste. Add lemon juice, cumin powder, cayenne pepper or chili powder and salt and grind again till well blended.
• Next add the red bell peppers and grind till smooth. Finally add the drained chickpeas and grind to a smooth paste. Add approx 3-4 tbsps of the drained chickpea water and grind again. It should be a smooth and creamy paste. Remove to a serving bowl. Drizzle some olive oil on top with a sprinkle of red chili flakes and serve with pita bread, crackers or sliced vegetables like carrot or cucumber.

Sunday 11 May 2014

Health Benefits Of Apricot

Apricots are typically yellow or orange in colour with a slight red tinge on one side. Its taste lies somewhere between plums and peaches, fruits to which it is closely related. The seed is enclosed in the hard shell, often called a “stone”. Apricot is a versatile fruit and can be enjoyed in many ways. Read on further to know about the health, skin and hair benefits of this tangy fruit.

Apricot scrub is one of the most popular skin care products available. Ground apricot kernel is used in the scrub to get rid of dead skin cells, allowing your skin to renew itself. The exfoliating action of apricot scrub can help to get rid of fine lines and wrinkles. Apricot scrub can also help you to get an even skin tone. It removes and exfoliates damaged skin, revealing the new and lighter skin cells beneath. It is also useful for eliminating skin blemishes.
The anti-inflammatory properties of apricot oil may help to treat acne and skin redness. The flesh of apricot is particularly beneficial for treating acne-prone skin. Apply a paste of apricot to cure acne and pimples. Apricot leaf juice is useful for treating scabies, sunburn and eczema. Apricot scrub reduces blackheads, unclogs the pores and deep cleanses the skin, preventing the occurrence of acne.
Apricot kernel oil is very useful for sensitive skin. It is also used in baby products because of its mild and gentle nature.
Apricot oil is commonly used for massaging the body and skin. It is used in aromatherapy massages to keep the skin healthy and to balance the nervous system. Do not forget to consult your doctor before using it, especially if you have sensitive skin.
The hydrating properties of apricot kernel oil make it a natural moisturiser. The high levels of linoleic acid present in this oil maintain the moisture balance of the skin. It is lightweight oil that gets absorbed into the skin, without leaving any greasiness behind. This oil is suited for all skin types, including oily and acne-prone skin. You can also add a few drops of this oil to your moisturiser or serum.
Regular consumption of apricot helps to maintain the elasticity and suppleness of the skin. Vitamin E in apricot helps to delay the signs of ageing. It also tones and firms the skin. You can use apricot paste as a facial mask to soften the skin.
Apricot contains oleic acid and Vitamin A, which prevent skin damage. The anti-inflammatory properties of apricot are helpful for soothing minor skin conditions like eczema and dry skin.
Apricot is an excellent source of antioxidants. Free radicals are usually caused due to pollution, sun rays and other environmental conditions. They hinder the process of cell growth, leading to changes in the DNA of the cells. This leads to the formation of cancer cells in the body. Therefore, consume apricots on a regular basis to protect yourself from cancer. Besides, studies have also revealed that apricot seeds contain a compound called B17, which helps in the treatment of cancer. It contains high levels of Vitamin A and C, which boost the immune system, fighting cancer causing cells.
Foods rich in Vitamin A, C, carotenoids and beta-carotene can help reduce the risk of vision problems. The degenerative effect of free radicals may lead to cataract. It can also inhibit the blood supply to the eyes, causing muscular degeneration. The high levels of beta-carotene improve blood flow to the eyes, reversing age-related muscular degeneration. It contains an antioxidant called Zea xanthin, which provides light filtering functions, thus improving vision.
Apricots contain a high amount of pectin, a soluble fibber, which helps in the treatment of constipation. It is often recommended to patients suffering from irritable bowel syndrome and constipation. Fibber bulks up the stool, making it easier to transport through the bowels. It activates the peristaltic motion of the digestive tract, regulating the bowel movements. The high levels of fibber in apricot are also vital for colon health.
Apricots contain all the necessary nutrients required for healthy bone growth. Thus, eating apricots regularly will ensure the growth and development of the bones. It will also prevent age-related conditions, including osteoporosis. The anti-inflammatory properties of apricot reduce inflammation in the body, relieving arthritis pain and gout.
Potassium in apricot helps to maintain the fluid balance in the body, ensuring that energy is equally distributed throughout the organs. A healthy balance of electrolytes ensures that you have more energy and stamina to deal with day-to-day activities.
Apricot juice is believed to cure fever. Its soothing and anti-inflammatory properties affect the body’s overall temperature, curing fever. Prepare a concoction using apricot juice and water. Add 1 tablespoon of honey to this concoction. Drink this concoction twice a day to relieve cold, cough and fever.
Apricot is an excellent fruit for maintaining heart health. Research has found that people who eat foods rich in Vitamin C are less susceptible to heart diseases. The high levels of dietary fibber remove the excess cholesterol from the arteries, reducing strain on the heart. It protects the low-density lipoprotein from oxidation, preventing heart diseases and stroke. Potassium in apricot regulates the balance of intracellular and extracellular water levels, thereby regulating blood pressure. Half a cup of apricot provides the body with 10% of the recommended amount of potassium.
Apricot is an excellent source of iron, a mineral which plays a very important role in the formation of haemoglobin. In addition, apricot also contains copper, which aids in iron absorption. This improves the blood flow in the body, preventing anaemia.
This low calorie fruit will make an excellent addition to your weight loss regime. One hundred grams of apricot contain 45 calories. The insoluble fibber in apricot absorbs water and keeps the stomach full for a longer time. Fibber also promotes quick movement of food through the digestive tract.
Apricot oil is believed to be anti-asthmatic in nature. It is very beneficial for treating respiratory disease and its related symptoms. The oil has expectorant and stimulating qualities, which helps to relieve pressure and stress from the respiratory system. This helps to prevent asthma attacks.
Apricots are very beneficial for pregnant women. It contains several essential nutrients, which can help in the growth and development of the fetus. Pregnant women are advised to consume dried apricots as it contains high amounts of iron. Iron will facilitate the circulation of blood in the body, preventing anaemia. The dietary fibber in apricots prevents indigestion and constipation in pregnant women.

The wide arrays of nutrients present in apricot make it very beneficial for the hair. Some of the benefits of apricot for the hair include:
Several hair products claim to improve the growth and texture of the hair, but only a handful of these work. Instead of trying harmful and chemical-laden hair products, you can try apricot kernel oil to improve the health of your hair.
Regular consumption of apricot can do wonders to your hair. It promotes sebum production in the scalp, keeping it conditioned and moisturised. Add a few drops of apricot kernel oil to your shampoo and conditioner to make the hair soft, smooth and manageable. It is also used as treatment oil before chemical treatments. You can also use apricot kernel oil to manage frizzy hair. Take a few drops of apricot oil and smoothen through the hair.
Regular application of apricot oil can help to make the hair shiny and soft. Massage your scalp with apricot oil to keep the hair roots nourished and conditioned. It also stimulates the follicles, stimulating hair growth.
Apricot kernel oil is very beneficial for treating scalp conditions like an itchy scalp, dandruff, eczema and psoriasis.