Thursday, September 2, 2010

Traditional Arabian Drinks at Iftaar

Last year I had focussed on different varities of dates that are popular in Ramadan.This time I would like to showcase traditional Arabian drinks that are hydrating and nourishing during Iftaar time.I am posting this from India where I am vacationing for a month.It is a great time to be here with a string of festivals like Eid and Vinayaka chathurthi lined up along with the monsoons.Have fun.

Sobia: It is a traditional drink made during ramadan which although still popular is a dying tradition as very few people have stuck to making this drink to be sold in great quantities.It is made with grains flour cardamom and dry bread.Some variations are also sold like the red sobia made with a raspberry flavouring.The raisin sobia is made with raisins in addtion to the above ingredients along with spices like cardamom and cinammon.concerns for health and hygiene have authorities restricitng the sale of this
 homemade drink at iftar.

Jallab: it is made with grape molasses and a hint of bakhour/incense.The other drink is a rose water syrup made by adding rosewater to a syrup made of sugar.It  is in the form of a concentrate that is served by topping with ice and 2/3 water to 1/3 syrup.

Karkadiyeh:This is a hibiscus tea made with an infusion of dried hibiscus flowers and boiling water and sweetened

Kamardeen/Apricot nectar:
Ingredients:2-3 apricot /kamardeen or  apricot jelly sheets
                  5 cups of water
                10 tbs sugar
Method: Cut kamardeen into pieces and soak in water for 6-8 hrs or overnight.Add five cups of water and blend along with sugar into a fine sauce.Strain the juice and refrigerate for a few hrs and serve with crushed ice.

Tamar-al- Hind (Tamarind Syrup):
1/2 cup tamarind pieces
2 cups water
sugar as required
few drops of rose water
Soak tamarind in 2 cups of water for 5-6 hrs.Strain and sieve the liquid.Sweeten with sugar and add a few drops of rose water.Serve very cold.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Ramadan Kareem- Easy Iftaar options to carry to work

Its time for Ramadan preparations again and this time it is a little tough for people in the gulf with the temperatures soaring between 45-49c and the fasting time longer with 14 to 15 hrs of duration,while most people both local and expats have opted to exit the place for cooler climes yet for those back here it will be easy with proper planning and preparation.I will be writing about some rare ramadan specialities in the next post.Also,one should not chuck their healthy eating plans aside and feel disappointed with weight issues after ramadan is over.

I am trying to answer a query (by an office going lady)  I recieved, regarding iftaar items(vegetarian) that can be carried to office without worrying about these turning bad or unpalatable at iftaar time.

Here are some ideas you can use.Most offices have a kitchen well equipped, or with a fridge and microwave atleast.So storing, low fat yoghurts, milk and reheating of soups and sandwiches should not be a problem and  tupperware boxes that are spill proof like lockn lock can be very handy too

Dates,unsweetened juices,and a healthy mix of fresh seasonal fruits are great to carry with you to office in the morning for breaking your fast later in the evening.Also unsalted nuts like a mix of almonds, walnuts, pistachios and raisins thrown along with a handful of breakfast cereal is also great to munch upon until you get home.Healthy vegetable sandwiches can be a great option too if you wish you can carry some spreads,cheese etc separately that can be refrigerated and used later.Peanut butter, honey stay good at room temperature and they are hassle free too,provided you aren't allergic.Boiled chickpeas, sprouts lightly tossed in oil with some spices and salt is another good option.Rice cakes, are great with some cheese spread and also low fat high fibre biscuits.All these should hold you up in good stead till you get home to eat dinner without the guilt of gorging on unhealthy foods.

Eat Sensible: Choose healthy eating options after the ramadan canon sounds off.Begin with dates to help replenish glucose levels followed by water/unsweetened juice/skimmed laban/buttermilk.Stick to complex carbs and proteins with plenty of fruits and veggies at suhoor to get you through the day.
Be hydrated: drink plenty of water/fluids at iftaar, before you go to bed and during suhoor.
Exercise: Make sure you don't toss your fitness plans out of the window for the whole month.Moderate exercise before suhoor or an hour or two after a light iftaar will keep you going strong.Keep a bottle of water around.

Happy fasting.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Hi everyone !

Been really busy... thankfully an end to exams,kids illness... and the summer break begins.Will begin posting soon

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Shredded Chicken and Vegetables


300 gms shredded chicken
2 tbs sesame oil
2 tbs soy sauce
1tsp tabasco sauce
1 tbs sesame seeds
1/2 cup broccoli florets
1/3 cup carrot cut into match sticks
1/3 cup zuchchini/courgette cut into matchsticks
1 green pepper sliced thinly
salt as required
 1tbs corn flour
75 ml chicken stock
1 clove garlic chopped finely
1 tbs dark brown sugar

Heat oil add the sesame seeds and garlic followed by vegetables and toss them about for 3-4 minutes,add chicken and continue cooking for about 5 minutes while stirring from time to time.Now add the soy sauce, tabasco and mix corn flour  in a tbs water and stir it into the stock and add to the chicken, followed by sugar and salt.Cover and let cook for another five minutes or so till chicken is cooked through, and sauce is slightly thickened. Serve it on top of  a mound of  steamed rice or a rice pilaff.

Note: This can be a great low calorie and healthy dish all you have to do is use 5ml oil per person and  a non stick pan to cook.You could simply stir fry the vegetables as above,without the chicken.the sesame seed oil gives great flavor to the dish and has a high smoke point ideal for stir frying.

Rice Peas Pilaff:
1 cup long grained rice
2 cups( low sodium) chicken stock(organics)
2 cardomom pods
2 cloves
1 inch cinammon
1 star anise
2 bay/laurel leaves
2 tbs oil
salt as required
1/3 cup frozen peas like organics/watties
2 tsp cumin powder
Heat oil add the whole spices and when they begin emitting an aroma add the washed rice stir for 30 seconds add the peas,chicken stock and cumin powder.Add salt and let it come to a boil.Now reduce the flame and let it cook till done.If you wish you could add a pinch of saffron strands to give color to the rice.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Spring- 360 Celebrating Food and Fashion

Grid View of beet dazzle,Mediterranean salad ,Frangipani fabric hair clip and gold&silver bangles.The picture and recipe of Beet Dazzle is courtesy of my blog reader Sireesha who is pursueing her Master's degree in biotechnology.

Spring is around the corner and new life begins to slowly  awaken and unfurl from the deep slumber of winter.Most of us like the season of spring as color begins to fill and surround our senses.So get ready to soak up the delights that this season has brought for you.

Spring Clean: be sure to start on the right note and spring clean your mind ,body and soul.The best way to do this is to pamper yourself with a good spa treatment, whichever one you choose make sure it is one experience you enjoy and come back rejuvenated and refreshed.Isn't it time to de clutter your home? ..empty all those drawers, closets and shelves of things you no longer need...a good rule of thumb is to do away with all the stuff you haven't used in the past six months to one year.Bring a sparkle to your home by making small refreshing changes to your interiors and furniture even things like rearranging them can give a new perspective:

Fashion: This season romance rules and is defined by clothes that are made of light and sheer fabrics, floral prints, drapes and ruffles, soft colors and monochrome shades of white and black.Denims in faded blue are also the rage.

Accessories:If you love bags then the usual tones of white black and brown have got an extra edge with colorful embroidery and  multicolor beads.Soft candy and forest colors are in too.Gold and silver has been the highlight from chunky bangles and cuffs,to bags and clutches and even strappy high heeled shoes.Flip Flops and sandals in bright colors are in and flowers cut out in fabric, seem to be the highlight of  hairclips shoes and other accessories.Hair is either wavy or braided this season loosely pinned with hairclips in multicolored fabric flowers..think forest nymph or the beach babe look... need further elaboration the hawain hula dancers wavy hair pinned with flowers. Nothing is complete without make up ... soft tones of blue,pinks browns and greens are trendy and don't forget turquoise/coral shades too.Flawless looking skin and barely there make- up are the key words.Jewellery is defined by beads, multicoloredstones and if you are an ardent lover of high-end jewellery them pearls and multicolored stones are the most happening... look for inspiration and help from Cartier, Piaget and Van Cleef & Arpells.
Food :
 Since this blog is basically about food , how can it be far behind...colorful fruits and vegetables that spring and summer have to offer should be big on the plates and your menus.Eating plenty of fruits and vegetable salads and of course fresh juices should help you detox- flush away the toxins from your system.Years ago I was influenced by the philosophy of detox and Living health ( Fit For Life 2 byHarvey and Marilyn Diamond).They advocate a living food day per week that is to eat only fresh fruit and vegetables which are living foods meaning in their natural state- uncooked.Celery, lettuce, cucumber,tomatoes which are rich in water content( highly fibrous vegetables are not advised) and of course fruits too.No cooked food is allowed on this day and if you must then only partake of a light clear vegetable soup in the evening for dinner.You can begin with one day and go upto three and then fifteen days of living foods as you progress.This gives rest to the digestive system from the effects of heavy processed and oil laden foods which form the usual diet of most people.It is also thought to help you lose weight.

NB:However, before you embark upon a detox journey consult your GP especially people with specific medical conditions must not undertake any diet without consulting a doctor.This detox therapy is merely a guideline for you and expert advise should be taken before making any changes to your diet.

Keeping in sync with this philosophy of light eating I am posting a vegetable salad and  a nourishing drink which you might enjoy.The  drink however is not intended for your living health programme but as a light and nourishing summer drink.

Mediterranean salad:
Ingredients: 2 tbs spiral pasta
                   2tbs spanish black olives
                   5 -6 leaves lolo ross lettuce soaked in ice cold water to crispen and  torn to shreds
                  1 seedless tangerine peeled and segmented
                   1 cucumber chopped
                 A  few cherry tomatoes
Dressing:1 tsp honey,1 tsp olive oil, 1/4 tsp crushed pepper,some sea salt,1 tbs orange juice
Toss all ingredients along with cooked spiral pasta.Mix the dressing in a bowl and  drizzle over the salad just before serving.
 Beet Dazzle:
 1  Beetroot
 3 carrot
 1/4 cup sugar pellets/misri/
Wash the beetroot and carrot blend well and sieve through muslin cloth to obtain a clear liquid.Mix this liquid with the sugar pellets and heat till it thickens to a slightly syrupy texture.Cool and store in refrigerator.To serve use 1/4 th glass of the syrup,top it with cold water add  honey to sweeten and a few drops of lemon juice, stir well. This is best taken on an empty stomach first thing in the morning.

The spring trends are my personal interpretations after looking at spring arrivals in number of  fashion and accessory stores

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Yoghurt coated Chicken

Yogurt Coated chicken


500 gms chicken breast fillet diced into 1 inch pieces

5 tbs yogurts

2 tbs lemon juice

salt as required
2 tbs rice powder

oil-2 tbs for the marinade,
3 tbs for cooking the chicken

spice powder ingredients:
1 tbs paprika
1.5 tbs coriander seeds
12 black peppercorns
5 garlic cloves
2 tbs ginger chopped
1/2 tsp dried thyme

Blend the spices.Marinate chicken with the yogurt lemon juice and the rest of the ingredients for 4-6 hrs.Heat oil add the chicken along with marinade and cook till chicken is tender,oil separates and the yogurt marinade sticks to the chicken.This goes well with any Indian flat breads.

Celebrating Women's Day is a norm in India especially during our College and University life.Like everywhere else we celebrated it with wearing a saree, a pink rose and a speech.Now, it is more than just celebrating your femininity and rights.It is now, about being an individual and putting that as a priority.We always put the mother, the wife in us first, often ignoring the individual.Nevertheless, you as an individual are equally important to complete the strong foundation and achieve a balance.Some of my personal thoughts on that...

Health:Get a regular check up done and keep a tab on your thyroid,blood pressure,sugar levels heamoglobin and most important, vitamin levels like vit D and ofcourse your calcium levels.If you get up in the morning and feel unwell, stressed out unhappy and fatigued and do not sleep well,experience headaches muscular or joint aches then you're body is trying to tell you something ...get a check up immediately.Most,often we are worried for cancers...of course big things matter but so do little things like the above and they should be paid attention to as well.

Exercise: quit that procrastination and be regular with exercise- twenty minutes of aerobics and 30 minutes of flexibility exercises will do wonders to the body and soul.Yoga and breathing helps one keep wonderfully calm and radiating with energy.I can vouch for that one.
Good diet:Balanced diet with lots of fruit and vegetables and possibly one vitamin and mineral supplement will help you too.

Self defence:Learning one form of martial arts is what I believe is of utmost importance for every woman.When I began working I never felt completely safe walking out alone and that's when I began investing some time and effort in Karate. Now, I am confident that I can tackle a person and defend my self in a situation when required.Go for it, learn something whatever it is karate, jujitsu,taekwando... anything even boxing.

Upgrade your skills:constantly taking up some course or learning a skill keeps you abreast of things in life.

Therapeutic value:whatever gives you a high and alleviates your stress should be often indulged in whether it is shopping,a fun filled holiday,eating out,reading, playing with your kids or a heartfelt chat with a loved one or spouse.

Prayer, Meditation and Introspection: these are equally important to keep you connected with your soul and feel enriched from within as well as your external self.

Happy Women's Day!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Matar Masala(Aromatic green pea curry)

200 gms frozen peas like organics/fresh tender green peas
2 onions
1 inch cinammon stick
1/3 cup yoghurt
2 cardamom pods
1 tsp cumin seeds
3 tomatoes
3 tbs cashewnuts soaked
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/4 cup cream
salt as required
Boil onions, cashewnuts,cinammon,cardamom,gingerand tomatoes for about 15 min and blend them along with yoghurt.Heat oil in a pan, saute the above paste along with the cumin seeds till it turns to a golden hue.Now, add the garam masala, and cream,along with 1/3 cup water and let simmer for a while on a low flame.Add the peas and cook for 10 more minutes.Season with salt.

Suggestion:you could use low fat yoghurt and low fat milk in place of cream to make it a low calorie dish.Fresh green peas need to be boiled before hand.Garnish with a few blanched and chopped tomatoes.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Spruce up your Thali

Nutritious meals need not cost the earth.There are many vegetables that are considered as secondary or supplementary vegetables(colocasia,carrots,yam,parwal{a gourd variety}) in Indian cooking and used only to prepare curries on the side.These make lovely additions to a thali too.Carrot can be used in a unique combination with chana dal(split peas/bengal gram)to make a delicious curry on the side and is packed with a powerhouse of nutrients.Also, this is dedicated to one of my regular blogger visitor who was looking for economical curries to suit her tight budget.This dish was traditionally made in my grandma's kitchen and the methi(fenugreek greens) was often swapped with drumstick leaves from the kitchen garden.

Carrot Methi Chana Dal

4 large carrots chopped and steamed till tender
1/3 cup chana dal(boiled)
A handful of methi(fenugreek ) or drumstick leaves
1/3 tsp cumin seeds
1/3 tsp cumin and coriander powder
2 tbs oil
salt as required
1 tsp amchur powder
1/3 tsp turmeric
4 dry red chillies broken to bits

Method: Heat oil in a skillet add the cumin and when it begins to crackle and splutter add the spice powders and methi leaves stir fry till the leaves wilt.Now, add the carrot and chana dal, season with salt and toss well to combine the flavors.Cover and let cook for a few minutes.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Coastal Prawn Curry

Andhra coastal (seafood) delights consist of fiery gravies laced with fragrant spices.One such dish is the coastal prawn curry.You could reduce the spice further to give it a milder taste. Happy New Year, and a great Sankranti(Pongal).Thanks for all my blog mates who sent me their good wishes.

1 kg fresh prawns shelled and deveined
5 medium onions sliced finely
4 green chillies slit lengthwise(you could add more if you like it fiery hot)
2 tbs fresh ground coconut
3-4 tbs ginger-garlic paste
finely ground mix of the following spices:
2-3 green cardamoms
2-3 cloves
1inch piece of cinammon
1/2 tsp of fennel seeds
1 tsp turmeric
a few curry leaves
1 tsp redchilli powder
3 tbs oil
1 tomato chopped
fresh green coriander leaves for the garnish

In a glass bowl mix all the spices and prawns,chopped tomato, season with salt and keep aside. Saute the onions till golden in color.Add the curry leaves, marinated prawns and toss around for a minute then add 1/3 cup water and let it cook till prawns are done.Always remember over cooking results in loss of flavor and nutrition.Garnish with the fresh coriander leaves.