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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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)

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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

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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

 

One Pot One Shot

OPOS (One Pot One Shot) is a cooking technique invented by Ramakrishnan, aka Ramki. It is the simplest cooking technique on earth. It uses just One Pot and all the cooking is done in One Shot. As simple as that! No steps, sequences or supervision is required.

Most OPOS recipes use a pressure cooker and the ingredients are cooked directly without an inner vessel unless specified. Cooking is timed to perfection, based on either a timer or the number of whistles released by the pressure cooker.The ingredients are arranged in a layer,ensuring caramelisation of the bottom layer (for example: onions). Most of the vegetables are cooked with minimum oil and water, at high heat to retain maximum flavour, color and perfect texture.

OPOS is healthy because it lets you cook with minimum fat and use less spices. It enhances flavours to such an extent that if you use the normal quantity of, for example, chillies, you will end up with a very spicy dish.

OPOS is really fast. Since it uses flash cooking (cooking at high heat for a short duration with minimum or no water). It just takes a few minutes from the time of assembling the ingredients in the cooker, to the ready dish on your plate.

OPOS recipes are just a list of ingredients followed by a very brief cooking method. Learn one, and you have learnt them all. Here are the steps you’d follow for all OPOS recipes:
Step 1: Pressure cook.
Step 2: Blend all.
Step 3: Mix all.

OPOS unchains you from the stove, making cooking drudgery-free, and empowers anyone, even a novice, to cook confidently.

My Experience with OPOS

When I came to know about the OPOS method initially,it took me almost 3-4 months to understand what it was all about. I slowly started trying recipes. Honestly, my initial thought was ‘it’s just for beginners’. The first few recipes I tried were sure tasty but it didn’t have the same taste as my traditional recipes. I felt something is missing and I’m sure a lot of people felt the same when they were first introduced to the technique. Slowly, I gained confidence with each recipe I tried. I felt the taste is getting better with each trial. But in reality, it’s your confidence that gets better along with the taste. Because

You know how to mix flavours and get the best (read ‘what your family expects’) out of it.

You get the confidence to try your own recipe, the OPOS way.

You get the confidence to camouflage not-so-interesting veggies into interesting dishes.

You get the confidence to cook for a crowd at very short notice.

And all of this confidence shows in your cooking… It shows in the dishes you cook… I’m sure you too will find it a blissful experience with OPOS cooking, just like me.

 

Chilli Jam

jam pic by vidya

I made this Chilli Jam when I had an urge to try something new, something different. I first saw the recipe in a food channel, and then I googled for more information. It’s a wonderful jam and can be put into a whole lot of recipes. Add it to your toast, your jam cookies, as an accompaniment to your Indian breads or to sautéed vegetables to give it a nice, interesting twist.

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I cooked this jam in a pressure cooker. Yes! You heard it right! I pressure cooked it to get the perfect set jam. Thanks to Ramakrishnan for introducing me to this technique. His simple, OneShotOnePot (OPOS) recipes can be found at http://ramkicooks.blogspot.in/.  Earlier, I tried the open pot method and found the pressure cooker to be fast and efficient.  If you wish to, you can adapt the recipe and cook on an open pot. It just takes more time and effort. More on this below the recipe.

Ingredients

  • Red Capsicum – 1 (roasted and peeled)
  • Chilli – 2 (cut into small chunks and deseeded); I used dry red chilli
  • Sugar – 1 ½ cup
  • Apple cider vinegar – 1/4 cup
  • Apple – ½ (grated with skin)*

* Any jam or jelly requires pectin to set into that nice, perfect consistency. You can add commercially available pectin to help your jam to set. Pectin is not easily available around my place, so I chose apples (with skin). Other fruits that are rich in pectin include pear, guava, plum, gooseberry, orange, and other citrus fruits.

Method

Apply oil to a whole red capsicum and roast it in the oven or stove flame. I did the latter. It took approximately 15 minutes on a low flame. Remember to turn it around. Once roasted, remove, cool a bit and peel the skin. Cut chillies into small chunks. Blend capsicum and chillies in a blender. Place this mixture, along with sugar, apple cider vinegar and grated apple, directly inside the pressure cooker (do not use a vessel), and pressure cook on high for three whistles. Allow the pressure to come down, release the valve and check for consistency*. Immediately transfer the mixture to another container and cool it. You can store it in an airtight glass jar in the refrigerator for up to a month.

*How to know the perfect consistency

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When you do it in an open pot, you wouldn’t exactly know when to stop cooking. Hence, freeze a plate or two before you start cooking the jam. Once the sugar dissolves, the mixture will start boiling vigorously. Using a ladle, scoop and pour the mixture into a frozen plate. If it sticks to the spoon as a lump and falls slowly, you know that the jam is getting ready. Remember to switch off the flame while you do this checking process. If it forms a thin film and wrinkles to touch, your jam is good to go.

Last but not the least; I wanted my jam to look like it is store bought. So, I did my best to bring the looks together. I chose red capsicum and wanted the skin removed so as to get the perfect consistency. When you try this yourself, you can of course choose the colour of capsicum to use. You can also decide on whether you want to remove skin. That is purely your choice.

Know Your Ingredientsjam ing

Chilli

Red chilli (both dry and fresh) is high in nutrition. It contains a substance called ‘capsaicin’ which gives it the characteristic pungency. Capsaicin is considered an effective treatment for sensory nerve fibre disorders including pain associated with arthritis, psoriasis and diabetic neuropathy.

Some chillies like cayenne also help improve cardiovascular health by lowering blood cholesterol and triglycerides, and in clearing mucus during a bad flu attack.

Chillies (red and green) are also rich sources of vitamin C. The bright coloured red chillies have beta-carotene and pro vitamin A, which helps in improving immunity in the system in the long run. Hence, making it a regular part of your diet might actually benefit you. So, go ahead and have your chilli; enjoy the spice and the health too!

Type Vegetable
Form Fresh
How to Buy Go for the taut, smooth ones which are firmly attached to the stems
Storage Gently pull out the stem (do not use a knife) such that the entire stem comes off; store in an airtight container or a plastic cover in the refrigerator; stays good up to a month