Sweet Potato Paratha

Flat bread stuffed with spiced, sweet potato mash. Though it is a fancy explanation, this dish is just a healthy cousin of the well-loved aloo paratha. Most people wouldn’t even find the difference this paratha and its potato version. It’s yummy and nutritious. Give it a try!

Ingredients

For the filling

Sweet potato – 1 medium(boiled and mashed)

Horse gram sprouts – 2 spoons (steamed)

Onions – 1 medium (finely chopped)

Green chillies – 1-2 small (finely minced)

Red chilli powder – ¼ teaspoon

Garam masala – ½ teaspoon

Jeera powder – ½ teaspoon

Coriander powder – ½ teaspoon

Amchoor(dry mango) powder – ¼ teaspoon

Salt – as needed

Fresh coriander – 1 teaspoon (finely chopped)

For the dough

Whole wheat flour – 2 cups

Salt – as needed

Water – to knead into smooth, firm dough

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Method

Mix flour, salt and water to make a firm, smooth dough.  Keep aside for at least 20 minutes. Meanwhile, to make the filling, mash or grate the boiled sweet potatoes. Add steamed sprouts and mash again. Add the other ingredients mentioned for filling in the ingredients list, making sure that items like onion and green chillies are free from extra moisture. Mix well. Your filling is ready.

Take a lemon sized ball of the whole wheat dough and shape it into a large cup using your fingers. Take an almost equal quantity of filling. Place it in the dough cup and bring the edges together so that the dough completely covers the filling. Roll this filled cup in your hands to form a ball, dust the filled ball with flour and roll it into parathas using light strokes (without exerting pressure). Heat a pan and cook the parathas on both sides with oil or ghee.

Notes:

* The sweet potatoes have to be mashed well. Otherwise, you will find it difficult to roll out the parathas. I find that grating the boiled potatoes makes the filling finer, thereby the rolling out easier.

* I have added steamed horse gram sprouts for extra nutrition. You can replace that with other small sized sprouts or omit adding sprouts. It will not hamper the taste of parathas.

* Onions, green chillies and coriander should be chopped finely. This, again, ensures easy rolling of parathas.

* Ensure the ingredients are free of any extra moisture. Otherwise the parathas will turn out soggy.

* The spices mentioned in this recipe are basically of my choice. You can adjust according to your taste and preferences.

Know Your Ingredient

sweet-potato

pic courtesy: mayakitchenette.com

 

Sweet potato is an underground tuber and grows on the root of the plant. It is rich in fiber and highly nutritious. It’s also rich in beta carotene, which gets transformed to vitamin A in the body.

It is an excellent food for people looking to gain healthy weight and hence a great option for kids (well, my kids 😉).

Sweet potatoes are rich in zinc, magnesium and vitamin B complex making it an excellent food for managing arthritis.

They also have high levels of potassium, which helps in maintaining a healthy blood pressure level.

Choline, a nutrient present in sweet potatoes, is a water soluble, vitamin-like nutrient which is important for liver function, brain development, muscle movement and nerve function.

Now, you know why sweet potatoes can be considered a super health food.Feel free to add it in large quantities to your daily diet. Check out the table below on how to buy and store sweet potatoes.

Type Vegetable
Form Fresh
How to Buy Look for firm, heavy (for their size) potatoes which are free from bruises, soft spots or sprouts.
Storage Store in a cool, dry place away from moisture. Stays good for up to two weeks. Do not refrigerate.

 

Pumpkin and Flax Seed Thuvayal (Chutney)

pumpkin, flaxseed thogayal1It is a challenge for me to include seeds such as flax seeds in everyday diet. So it feels good when I stumble upon a new idea to include something as nutritious as flax seed in as simple dish as thuvayal / chutney. Combined with pumpkin, this creates a super tasty and nutritious dish rich in Omega 3 fatty acids.

Thuvayal is a vegetable mash; kind of a thick chutney normally made from vegetables and(or) coconut, and eaten with rice. Thuvayals are wonderful in that they make it super easy to include any veggie in your meal. And flax seeds add a wonderful texture to the thuvayal. You should try it to feel the richness of the texture.

Ingredients

Pumpkin – 250 grams (de-skinned and chopped)

Flax seed – 50 grams (roasted)

Urad Dal – 1 tablespoon

Curry Leaves – 20 numbers

Tamarind – a tiny bit

Dry Red Chillies – 3 or 4 (according to desired level of spiciness)

Oil – as needed

Salt – to taste

Procedure

Dry roast the flax seeds and keep aside. Cook the chopped pumpkin without water either by flashcooking* or in an open pan. Heat enough oil in a pan. Add urad dal, chillies, tamarind and curry leaves. Once urad dal turns golden brown, take the urad dal, curry leaves out and keep aside.

In a blender/mixer jar, add the cooked pumpkin, roasted flax seeds, tamarind and chillies. Blend to a smooth paste. Now add the urad dal and just whirr for a few seconds. This adds crunch to the thuvayal. Finally, add the roasted curry leaves for garnish.

pumpkin, flaxseed thogayal-collage

*Flash cooking is an OPOS® technique of cooking food at the highest possible heat for the lowest possible time. This produces dramatic results. It heightens the flavour, colour, and texture of the food, and promises greater nutrition.

pumpkin, flaxseed thogayal

Know Your Ingredient

Flax seed,also called linseed, comes from a crop which is also grown for its fiber, linen. Linen is the oldest plant fiber grown by mankind. Flax seed is a rich source of Omega-3 fatty acids. It is high in fiber and low in carbohydrates, making it ideal for weight watchers. This also helps in lowering LDL cholesterol and supports heart health.

Flax seeds are high in antioxidants. A component called lignan in flax seed supports the growth of probiotics (good bacteria) in your gut, thus making your digestion better and immunity stronger. Flax seeds are the richest source of lignan. Sesame seeds come second only with about 1/7th of the lignans present in flax seeds. Lignans also help in treating hormonal imbalance. So, include flaxseeds in your everyday meal and reap its numerous benefits while enjoying its nutty flavor.

Type Seed
Form Whole, Dried
How to Buy Always check ‘best to use by’ date to ensure freshness. Prefer opaque packaging as light promotes spoilage in flax seeds.
Storage The whole seeds can be stored in a cool, dark place for a year. The ground / powdered flax seeds that are available in the market have to be refrigerated. When stored at room temperature, they go rancid within a few weeks.

 

Hot and Sweet Tomato Ketchup

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What do you do when your kids become ketchup guzzling monsters? I worry about their health because the ketchup is store bought and it invariably has added flavour enhancers, colours, acidity regulator, preservatives and loads of other unknown substances. So, here I am, presenting my store-bought-like ketchup made in a pressure cooker. I’m using the ‘flash cooking’ technique of OPOS® by Mr.Ramakrishnan. This technique uses layering of ingredients in a pressure cooker and cooking it on high heat for the shortest time with minimum or no water.

The consistency of this ketchup is so thick and perfect that my kids haven’t found any reason to crib. For me, since I am making this in a pressure cooker, no splashes, no monitoring and no sautéing. Happy me, happy kids.

Ingredients

Tomato – 1 kilogram (halved and deseeded)

Dry Red Chillies – 5-6 numbers (deseeded)

Sugar – 7 tablespoons (I have used cane sugar)

Salt – 1 teaspoon

Vinegar – 1-2 teaspoons

Ginger-Garlic Paste – 2 teaspoons

Procedure

Place the halved and deseeded tomatoes in the base of the cooker. Add sugar, salt and deseeded chillies. Ensure sugar does not touch the bottom of the cooker. Add ginger-garlic paste, vinegar and fire it on high for about 6 whistles. Switch off. Cool the mixture and blend it to a smooth paste. Run the mixture through a wide eyed sieve. Pour it into the cooker again and cook for 6-8 more whistles depending on the thickness you need. You might also cook it on an open flame. But I personally like to keep it covered while cooking, as it prevents splashes and mess. Enjoy a super thick, store-bought-like ketchup made nutritiously at home.

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Pour it into a clean, dry bottle. Ensure you use a clean, dry spoon. This way, you can store ketchup in the fridge for around one month.

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Know Your Ingredient

Tomato is one of the most frequently consumed vegetables in Indian cuisines. (Although widely used as a vegetable, botanically, tomato is a fruit.)

It is also one of the most nutrient rich. It contains 95% water and is one of the richest sources of lycopene. Lycopene is the red pigment present in tomatoes. It is an antioxidant, which has been extensively studied for its health benefits.The more tomatoes you eat, the better will be your body’s lycopene levels. One of the major health benefits of lycopene is to lower the levels of LDL cholesterol, and thus reduce cardiovascular diseases. If you think this is not reason enough, read on, we have more health benefits from the humble tomato.

A high lycopene level in your body prevents you from getting sunburn and alsokeeps your skin glowing. So, all you beauty conscious people out there can grab a tomato right away for radiant skin.

Tomatoes also have cancer preventing properties. Again, the high lycopene content in tomatoes is the reason behind this property.

Tomatoes also contain high levels of potassium which helps in reducing hypertension and in controlling blood pressure.

Study* suggests that lycopene content is the highest in recipes like ketchup which have lots of cooked tomatoes. So, what are you waiting for, raise your lycopene levels with this homemade, preservative free tomato ketchup.

Type Fruit
Form Fresh
How to Buy Go for the ones which are smooth, well-shaped. Avoid ones with bruises, cracks,wrinkles or soft spots.
Storage The best way to preserve the natural flavor is to keep it in a cool place away from direct sunlight. If you want an unripe tomato to ripen quickly, keep it near a banana. If the tomatoes are overripe and you are not ready to use them, then refrigerate for no longer than 2 days. Keep them out from the refrigerator for around 30 minutes before using to bring back the flavor and juiciness.

*https://www.researchgate.net/publication/266466884_Lycopene_content_of_tomatoes_and_tomato_products

Home made Peanut Butter

peanut-butter1

Imagine a morning, you snoozed your alarm couple of times and for some odd reason it failed to go off again. You wake up well past your usual time and have nothing ready to prepare breakfast. The kids are also in a sleepy mode and whine at the idea of plain bread toast for breakfast. I’m sure most of you can relate to this.

Being the super health conscious mom, I try to keep homemade peanut butter in the pantry. It comes in handy in these situations and gives a perfect kick start to a busy day.

Once you try it at home, I am sure you will never go back to the store bought version for three reasons. 1. It is extremely easy and 2. It is super tasty and 3. It has absolutely zero preservatives, additives or added flavours.

Ingredients

Peanuts – 1 ½ cups (roasted and peeled)

Salt – ½ teaspoon (or more to taste)

Sugar – 2 tablespoons (adjust according to your preference)

Oil – 2 tablespoons (I used peanut oil)

Procedure

Blend everything in a mixer or blender until smooth. If you like your peanut butter chunky, keep aside half a cup of peanuts before blending. You can add this at the end and blend for just a few seconds.

If you don’t get roasted peanuts in a store near you, you can roast them yourself by spreading on a plate and microwaving on high for approximately 5 minutes.

peanut-butter2

Know Your Ingredient

Peanut, also known as groundnut, is one of the healthiest foods.  Peanuts are a good source of vitamin E, manganese, niacin and folate. They are also rich in protein and monounsaturated fats. This kind of fat makes it a great food for heart health. Among a host of other health benefits, peanuts offer an excellent source of resveratrol, a polyphenolic antioxidant which helps in cancer prevention, reduced risk of stroke and Alzheimer’s disease.  So, what’s stopping you? Go indulge yourself with a handful of peanuts.

Type Technically legume; a nut for common culinary purposes
Form Dried
How to Buy Look for a fresh pack which has been stored in clean, moisture free environment. Check if the nuts are whole and are not cracked.
Storage Store in a cool, airtight container. Peanuts can be refrigerated for longer shelf life.

Fried Dumpling with Dates and Nuts

Hi friends, I thank you from the bottom of my heart as you have come all the way to see the awesome, home style recipes on my wonderful space here. On this particular day that I first tried this recipe, the master home chef that I am 😉 was in an excited, elated mood. Do you know that makes all the difference to food being prepared? Exactly! The food turned naturally awesome and delicious. I took inspiration from a very old, traditional sweet recipe called suryakala. It is a very beautiful blend of crispiness and sweet awesomeness. So, here goes my version. Enjoy!

fried-dumplings2

Ingredients

For the syrup

Sugar – 1 cup

Water – ¼ cup

Lemon – 1 teaspoon

Oil – for deep frying

For the dough

All purpose flour (Maida) – 1 cup

Ghee – 2 tablespoons

Salt – a pinch

Water – as required to form tight dough

For the filling

Dates – 30 -35 numbers (deseeded and finely chopped)

Nuts – a handful (toasted and roughly chopped)

Procedure

Take ghee and flour in a bowl. Rub the ghee well into the flour till it looks like bread crumbs. Add a pinch of salt. Add water little by little and form a smooth, tight dough. Rest it for at least 30 minutes.

Take the dates and toasted nuts on a pan and heat this mixture on low flame till it comes together. This will take not more than 8 – 10 minutes. Mash well. Your filling is ready!

Combine sugar and quarter cup of water and heat till it becomes a sticky syrup (or half-thread consistency – to check, pinch the sugar syrup between your thumb and index finger, if it forms a thread and breaks immediately, your syrup is good to go. Add a spoon of lemon juice to avoid crystallization.

Roll the dough into a big disc of medium thickness. Cut out small circles with the help of a cookie cutter or lid. Take each circle, fill with the date-nut mixture and bring the opposite ends together and shape the dumplings.

Heat oil on a pan, deep fry the dumplings on medium heat till it turns golden brown. Remove from oil and steep it in the pan of sugar syrup for 5 – 10 minutes. Arrange it on a plate and enjoy!

Note: if the syrup crystallizes and hardens, add a teaspoon of water and heat it on low flame for a minute or less till it liquidizes.

fried-dumplings1

Know Your Ingredients

Dates are the nutritious, sweet fruit of the date palm. Dates are an excellent source of essential minerals like calcium, magnesium, zinc and iron. This makes it an ideal food for bone health. Anaemic people can benefit a lot by including dates in their regular diet. Dates are rich in fiber making it one of the most effective remedies for constipation. Dates, being rich in natural sugar, are a perfect quick snack for the odd hour hunger. To know more about the various health benefits of dates, follow the link: https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/fruit/health-benefits-of-dates.html

Type Fruit
Form Fresh / dried
How to Buy In India, dates are mostly available in sealed packs. Look for the date of packaging. If the pack is transparent, check if the fruits are plump and have an even colour.
Storage Store dates by keeping in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to six months. Freezing prolongs shelf life up to a year.

Dried dates can be stored in normal room temperature for up to a year or more.

 

Roasted Peanuts and Pumpkin Soup

I first tasted this soup in an Italian restaurant and the flavour was just mind blowing. I had to come back home and search all of Google to get the various versions. Finally, I came up with my own version which is not just awesome but is also healthy and made from scratch. Okay, I know I am praising myself here. But, try for yourself and do let me know. I’m sure, just like me, you too would love this soup.

pumpkin-soup-final1

Soup topped with crushed peanuts. Can you see charred bits?

 

Ingredients you would need:

Pumpkin – 250 grams

Roasted and de-skinned peanuts – 30 grams (or just a handful)

Garlic – 2 pods

Butter – 1 tablespoon

Onions – ¼ cup (sliced)

Oregano (or any Italian seasoning) – 2 teaspoons

Cream – 2 tablespoons

Milk – ¼ cup or as desired to bring the soup to the required consistency

Salt – to taste

Pepper – to taste

Bread croutons – for garnishing

pumpkin-soup-ingredients

Main ingredients at a glance

Procedure

Chop the pumpkins into medium sized squares. If you like the smoked flavour (I love it!), char a couple of pieces on an open flame after brushing with oil. Keep aside.

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Char your way to glory!

 

Add some butter to a small 2 or 3 litre pressure cooker. Lightly roast the garlic and onions. Add in the pumpkin pieces. Top up with ¼ cup of water. Close the lid and set the pressure valve. Cook for 3 whistles on high flame. Turn off the flame and let the pressure settle.

Add the peanuts to a blender or mixer jar. Blend till the peanuts are powdered fine. Add in the cooked pieces of pumpkin (including the charred pieces) along with the onion and garlic. Blend till everything comes together. Add milk and cream to bring the soup to the consistency you like. Add salt and pepper.  Serve with bread croutons.

pumpkin-soup-final2

Roasted Peanut with Pumpkin Soup. just the golden beauty without char!

 

Know Your Ingredient

Pumpkin is a highly versatile vegetable. Just cook pumpkin pieces and blend till smooth. Your pumpkin puree is ready to go into a whole lot of dishes. Pumpkin is used right from our South Indian sambar and kootu through many global cuisines (it goes into the making of pies, breads, soups and even desserts). Pumpkin is one of the most nutrient-rich easily homemade baby foods in the world.

Pumpkin is super rich in vitamin A (which aids in better vision and eyesight). The vegetable, being rich in potassium, is a great source of energy. It is also rich in Vitamin C, which greatly helps with immunity.  Eating this vegetable is a great way to lose weight as it is rich in fiber and low in calories.

Type Vegetable
Form Fresh
How to Buy Check for firmness of skin and flesh. If you are looking to buy just a piece cut out of the whole pumpkin, ensure that it was cut not more than a few hours earlier.
Storage Store the cut pumpkin without covering/cling wrap in the refrigerator. This way, it will not rot. While using, just cut the outer dried out layer and use the rest. It will be as good as fresh. Pumpkin puree can be frozen for almost a month. If you have lots of pumpkin, puree might be a good way to store it.

 

Kollu Cutlet (Sprouted Horse Gram Patties)

kollu-cutlet3

I made these cutlets just to finish off a big bag of sprouted horse gram. Sprouts are a regular feature in our pantry and I add them to many side dishes and parathas other than making salads out of them. Now, the kids were getting bored of eating salads and they didn’t want to see these in any other form (and I managed to camouflage 🙂 ). So, here it is, sprouted horse gram patties, or tikkis or cutlets, or whatever you like to call it.

Ingredients

Kollu (sprouted horse gram) – 1 ½ cup

Bread crumbs – about ½ cup (for binding; I use whole wheat bread)

Cornflour – 2 tablespoons

Onion – 1 small (finely chopped)

Red capsicum – ¼ cup (finely chopped; just for the burst of colour)

Ginger – ½ inch piece (finely minced)

Green chillies – 1 (finely minced) optional

Salt – to taste

Garam masala – ¼ teaspoon

Coriander leaves – a few (finely chopped)

Semolina/Quick cooking oats – to coat the patties (I used a bit of both)

Procedure

Coarsely blend the sprouted horse gram in a blender or mixer. Mix it with all the other ingredients except oats/semolina in a bowl. Shape them into roundels and flatten them in your palms. Coat them in oats/semolina. If you feel there isn’t enough moisture in the roundels for it to hold the oats, dip it in a mixture of maida and water, and then roll them over in the mixture of oats and semolina. Shallow fry in a pan/tawa. Serve hot with tomato sauce.

Notes

  • Ginger can be replaced with garlic
  • Bread crumbs are used just for binding; you can even use roasted gram flour (besan) or any other flour
  • Semolina/oats can be replaced with breadcrumbs or cornflakes to give a crunchy texture. Since I had already used bread crumbs, I wanted to give a variation by coating with oats/semolina
  • As the grains are sprouted, there is no need to cook them. In fact, sprouting makes the grain more easily digestible. If you have the sprouted grain ready, the dish gets done very fast.  Just coarse blend and get started with your tikkis. Imagine! I have started packing these for kids’ snack box in the morning rush. For me, it is one more option which can be done quickly and both I and kids are happy. Yayy!

Know Your Ingredient

Horse gram can be called the miracle legume because for its various health benefits. It is widely cultivated in India and is known as Kollu in Tamil. Regular consumption of this legume has been found to reduce insulin resistance. It is found to be a very good source of protein. It is also rich in iron and calcium. This legume is also high in fiber and low in calories making it the ideal choice for people on a diet. It is used extensively in ancient Indian medicine because of its astringent and diuretic properties.

How to make sprouts:

Wash and soak the horse gram in water for about 8 hours. Drain the water, tie it up in a clean muslin cloth, and hang this cloth bag in a cool, well lit place for another 8 hours. The gram would have sprouted by now.

You can store this in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 10 days or freeze it for up to a month.

Sprouted Horse Gram

Type Legume
Form Sprouted
How to buy Watch closely for bugs and holes, and avoid packets with a powdery residue. Once bought, they can be stored in their own packing inside an airtight container (to avoid moisture) and they will stay fresh for months together.
Storage If kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator, it will stay fresh for a week -10 days.
Usage Put it back in the refrigerator after taking the desired quantity of sprouts.

 

Horse gram tends to have many impurities. Before washing it, look for and remove any small stones. To be on the safer side, wash it twice or more before using. Even the sprouts are best washed before using.

 

Have a look at this for more info on horse gram

http://isha.sadhguru.org/blog/lifestyle/food/the-benefits-of-horse-gram/

Baked Nipattu (Masala Crackers)

baked-nipattu3Nipattu or thattai is one of the favourites in my family. This time around, I wanted to bake these instead of deep frying because I now have an oven (yep, a new addition in my home J) and wanted to try out various goodies. I stumbled upon smitha kallurayaa’s bakery style nipattu when I was browsing for recipes. The recipe is really interesting and as always, I tweaked it a bit to keep myself and my kiddos happy.

Ingredients

Maida – 1 cup

Multi grain flour – 1 cup

Ghee – 4 tablespoons

Onions – 1 medium (finely chopped)

Green chillies – 1 small (finely chopped)

Roasted, crushed peanuts – just a few

White sesame seeds – 2 teaspoons

Baking soda – ¼ teaspoon

Coriander leaves – ½ cup (chopped)

Sugar – 2 teaspoons

Salt – 1 teaspoon

Procedure

baked-nipattu2

Bring together maida, multigrain flour and ghee in a bowl. Rub the ghee into the flours till you get a sandy texture. Add the other ingredients to this and mix well. Add around a quarter cup of warm water to make a stiff dough. Rest the dough for around 20 minutes. Knead the dough again to incorporate extra moisture from the greens and onions. Make small rounds out of the dough and pat them into flat, thin discs. Bake the discs (a few at a time) on a well-greased baking tray for 15 – 20 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius. Allow them to cool and enjoy the crispy crackers. These can be stored for more than a week.

Know Your Ingredient

multi-grains

When I go shopping, I always look for products with multi grain, whole grain ingredients. Multi grain / whole grain – what’s the difference? Whole grain, as the name suggests, includes the whole (bran, germ and endosperm) of a grain. Multi grain means more than one grain is used in making the product.

Multi grain foods are high in complex carbohydrates and protein. They break down at a slower rate and hence provide energy for a longer time. Products labelled multi grain may include various grains which may or may not be whole. And they may be processed, which will not provide the health benefits that we are looking for in multi grain products. Hence, the idea is to look for whole grains as ingredients in multi grain products.

In reality, Indian consumers do not have much choice in these kinds of products. Therefore, I prefer to make multi grain flour myself, which I use for making rotis and parathas.

Let’s see how I do it. I make a list of ingredients which go into my multi grain flour… the list goes like this…

Whole wheat – 5 kilograms

Soya beans – 500 grams

Ragi – 100 grams

Barley – 100 grams

Jowar – 100 grams

Chick peas – 100 grams

Oats – 200 grams

Bajra – 100 grams

This is my personal list which I take to my grocer for shopping. This list is made keeping in mind that I make rotis most of the time and my kids do not like a change in colour or texture of the rotis at any point in time. I add more of soya beans because it does not change the texture or colour of the flour, while also being rich in protein (. Other ingredients can be increased or decreased as per individual tastes and preferences.

I dry the whole grains in the hot sun for a day after ensuring they are clean. Our Indian weather conditions are very much suitable for drying grains. I put the grains to dry on a clean cloth on the terrace, and cover them with another clean cloth. This is to make sure that the grains don’t catch any dust, and also to keep them away from birds. Once the grains are dry and crisp, I take them to a nearby flour mill to grind.

In subsequent posts, I will add details of how to select, buy and store each of these individual grains. Stay tuned!

 

Braided Bread with Coconut and Dry Fruit Stuffing

After weeks of planning and researching, I am finally the proud owner of a new oven (microwave, grill and convection). Earlier I used to bake using my old pressure cooker. While pressure cooker baking is great for cakes, the browning required for breads could not be achieved. So I had been waiting for this oven to try out breads among other yummies. The first bread had to be something interesting and I zeroed in on this braided bread. I wanted to make it even more interesting by adding a sweet stuffing using coconuts and dry fruits. Read on to find out how it turned out.

braided bread baked

For the bread:

All purpose flour – 2 cups

Wheat flour – ½ cup

Active dry yeast – 1 teaspoon

Sugar – 1 teaspoon (and 1 teaspoon for proofing)

Salt – 1 teaspoon

Milk – ¼ cup

Oil – ¼ cup

Warm water – as required to make smooth dough

 

For the filling:

Coconut – 1 cup (scraped)

Jaggery – ¾ cup

Dry fruits and nuts to add crunch and texture

I used toasted almonds, cashew nuts and a few cherries (the ones which are soaked in syrup and packed)

 

Add coconut and jaggery to a vessel and heat in medium flame till the jaggery melts and mixes with the coconut and gets a sticky texture. Switch off the flame, transfer the contents to a bowl and add dried fruits and toasted nuts of your choice. Your filling is ready.

For the bread, mix one teaspoon sugar to luke warm water and mix well. Add the yeast to this mixture, mix well and keep aside till it turns frothy (15 minutes approx). Mix the flour, sugar, salt. Add the activated yeast, milk, oil and mix well. Add warm water if required and knead for 10 – 15 minutes. Cover with cling wrap and keep aside for 1 to 1.5 hours (till it doubles). Once the dough is doubled, place it on a work surface. Punch it to release air and knead for 5 minutes.

To make the braided shape, take the dough, make a ball and roll it into a rectangle. Arrange the stuffing in the centre and make cuts as shown in the picture.

Fold the top and proceed by folding the cuts on either side onto the stuffing alternately to make a braid. Fold the bottom and seal it. Brush liberally with oil. Pre-heat the oven at 180 degrees celsius, and Bake the bread at 170 degree celsius for 12-15 minutes.

braided bread-cut angle

Know Your Ingredient

Coconut is the mature fruit of the cocos nucifera palm. One of the most indispensable ingredients in South Asian recipes, it is a complete food, rich in calories, vitamins and minerals. A medium sized nut contains up to 400 g of edible ‘meat’.

Coconut is an immediate source of energy with fewer calories than other fats.  It is rich in lauric acid which helps in increasing HDL (good cholesterol) levels in the blood. It also has micro nutrients like magnesium and selenium, which help maintain strong bones. It is also rich in fibre which helps control blood sugar and cholesterol. It is an excellent source of copper, iron, manganese, calcium, zinc, and potassium and also B-complex vitamins.

Type Fruit
Form Fresh
How to Buy Shake and see if it has good quantity of water.

Look for darker brown ones; this indicates that they are mature.

Check the eyes of the coconut; if they are moist or look mouldy, the coconut is spoilt, don’t buy.

 

Storage Store unopened ones in a cool, dry place. Once opened, it stays good in a refrigerator for up to a week.

 

Barley Risotto

Barley Risotto

I tend to think of risotto as the Italian cousin to our very own pulav. The arborio rice used in risotto is a starchy variety which, when cooked, gives a beautiful creamy texture to the dish. When we think of an ingredient to replace arborio rice in risotto, nothing comes close to barley. This recipe helps barley to cook into a nice sticky texture, which in turn helps get the perfect risotto.

I was introduced to barley by my physician who explained its various benefits and asked me to take it. I started consuming the water boiled with barley and later moved on to using the grains as a salad. Recently, one day, I suddenly had this brainwave, and thought, “why not make barley risotto using the OnePotOneShot method?”. So I did, and voila!, what a brilliant dish it turned out to be!1468542726428

Ingredients

Barley – 1 cup

Sweet corn kernels – ¼ cup

Basil – ½ cup (chopped)

Garlic – 2 to 5 pods (minced)

Water – 4 cups or more

Oregano – for seasoning

Olive oil – 1 tablespoon or more

Butter – 1 teaspoon

Cheese – ½ cup (grated)

Salt – to taste

Crushed almonds and chilli flakes – to garnish

In a pressure cooker, brush the bottom with butter and olive oil. Layer sweet corn, garlic and basil over the greased bottom. Top it with washed barley grains and water. Add salt. Drop the cheese into the cooker. Shut the cooker, put the valve on and cook it on high for 3 whistles.  Expect to be amazed when you open the cooker. You should be looking at the perfectly cooked, gooey, creamy risotto cooked in one shot. Garnish with whatever you like. And, don’t forget to enjoy!

Variations

Add veggies of your choice

Add flavourings of your choice

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Know Your Ingredient

I cannot brag enough about the health benefits of barley. It is nothing short of a so-called super food.

Barley is a versatile cereal with a nutty flavour. It is rich in fibre and a good source of various nutrients like manganese, selenium, copper, phosphorous, magnesium, niacin and vitamin B1.

Barley helps control constipation and lower cholesterol. It also lowers the risk of Type 2 Diabetes. It also prevents gallstones because of its high insoluble fibre.

I always make it a point to include barley grains in my mix for multi grain roti flour (yep, I grind the flour at home… that’s a topic for another post). Barley flour can be added to any bread or cake flour to get an interesting, sweet, nutty flavour to these baked goodies. The grains can also be added to soups and salads to give a rich texture. Go ahead; improve your health by including barley in your diet.

Type Grain
Form Whole
How to Buy Make sure the grains are free of moisture and are stored well
Storage Store in a cool, dry place. If you live in a warm, humid area, you can refrigerate it.

 

For more info on barley:

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/295268.php

http://wholegrainscouncil.org/whole-grains-101/health-benefits-of-barley

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=127