Saturday, 28 July 2012

LEMON CAKE (Egg less)


Monsoons have finally arrived in our part of the Earth and all the miseries inflicted by the seemingly unending summers are forgotten. Everything comes to an end and every end has a new beginning. This is the law of nature. Birds, beasts and all the creatures are reveling and the beauty of the rain washed landscape has lifted the spirits of all the denizens.
Change in the climate has a profound influence on our dietary preferences. Some time ago, curd was running out of stock in our home. As temperatures have come down, curd has been lying in the refrigerator un- touched. The craving to have curd has just disappeared.
I decided to celebrate as well, the end of sultry summers by baking a Lemon Cake. This recipe would also use the curd lying in the refrigerator.
Lemon cake is a very different kind of cake. Unlike other cakes, it has a subtle citrus-y aroma and a tangy flavour. The slices are moist and melt in the mouth. I have taken this recipe from Neeta Mehta’s book on baking.

Ingredients
1 ¾ cup refined flour
½ cup and 1 tablespoon sugar powdered.
1 ¼ cup curd
½ cup butter softened
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp soda bi-carb
3 tablespoons lemon juice
Peel of one lemon cut into very fine strips.

Method
Peel one lemon as thinly as possible. Try to avoid the white part. Cut it into thin long strips. Sieve flour, baking powder, soda bi-carb together and keep aside. Beat sugar and butter till light and fluffy. Mix lemon peels to this mixture. Beat curd and add lemon juice. Add this to the butter sugar mixture. Now add flour slowly. Mix well. Do not over mix. In a greased and lined 8” x 4” loaf tin, bake in a pre heated oven at 190 degrees for 30 minutes. Check by inserting a skewer. If it comes out clean, the cake is done. Remove from the oven and let it cool in the tin for 10 minutes and then transfer it to the cooling rack. For topping, mix 3 tablespoons of sugar and 3 tablespoons of lime juice and heat the mixture till sugar dissolves. Pour this topping on top of the cake. Leave it for two hours before eating.


Note: I used 1 cup whole wheat flour and ¾ cup refined flour. I used mineral sugar in place of white sugar.


Monday, 23 July 2012

SEMOLINA BANANA CAKE (Fatless and egg less)

This cake turned out to be total surprise. My son was recovering from a bout of cold and cough. His appetite had gone. Being a picky eater, there are very few things that he eats with interest. He loves bananas. I thought of making semolina cake with bananas. I had no idea of how to go about with it. I faintly remembered the recipe of semolina cake that my sister used to make with buttermilk. I wanted to improvise on that. While making this cake I totally forgot to add 2 tablespoons of olive oil that I intended to. I remembered only after placing the cake tin in the oven. However, take came out really well. Golden, springy and   sweet smelling. I dusted it with powdered sugar. Next day, it tasted even better. Moist, soft and every grain of semolina had become big and bouncy.  So this is my fatless, egg less Banana Semolina Cake!



Ingredients
1 ½ cups semolina
1 cup curds
3 ripe bananas pureed
1 cup sugar powdered
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
A pinch of salt
A pinch of powdered cinnamon

Method
Roast semolina on a light flame. When it starts changing color, turn off the gas. Let it cool. When semolina gets cold, mix curd and keep it for an hour. In a bowl, add pureed bananas,   powdered sugar, salt, cinnamon powder and   semolina curds mixture.  Add baking soda and baking powder and mix well.  Grease and line a medium size cake tin. Pour the mixture and bake in a pre heated oven at 180 degrees for 35 minutes. Once done, let it remain in the oven for 5 minutes. Remove from the tin and cool in the rack.







a slice of banana cake

Note: Do  not roast the semolina too much. It will not taste good. Add curds just enough to give batter the right consistency. It should fall and not flow. Chopped nuts can be added to the batter.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

LAUKI KA RAITA (BOTTLE GOURD RAITA)

Lauki is one of the most frequently bought veggie in our house. At any given point of time there is one lying in the refrigerator. I find it a very versatile veggie. We put it khichri, daal, make raita and use it for thickening sauces. Last Sunday I made lauki ka raita with rajma  chawal. It is smooth, sweet tasting bland raita. Doodhi has cooling and soothing effect during summers and makes a great combination with yogurt.



Ingredients
1 medium size lauki
1 cup curds
1 tsp sugar
Salt to taste
2 tsp roasted cumin seeds coarsely grounded.
Method
Peel lauki and cut it into half. Discard the seeds if hard. If the seeds are soft, grate the centre part as well. In a pan, boil some water with salt. Add grated doodhi and boil for a few minutes. Turn off the flame.  Transfer doohi from the pan to colander and let the water drain away. Squeeze the remaining water from doodhi. In a bowl, beat curds till smooth. Add salt and sugar. Add doodhi and mix well. Add cumin seed powder or finely chopped coriander.  Alternately, the raita can also be tempered with mustard seeds and curry leaves. For this, heat 2 tsp oil, add mustard seeds. When mustard seeds begin to crackle, add curry leaves and turn off the gas. Add this tempering to raita.
This raita tastes best when chilled and goes very well with spicy dishes.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

MINI BREAD ROLLS

I love baking bread. I am always on a hunt for a new recipe to try in my kitchen. Who does not love the aroma of freshly baked bread flooding every room and adding to the warmth of home? Baking bread for me is therapeutic. Last Sunday I decided to make mini bread rolls. These small size rolls are a pleasure to bake. I bake these keeping in mind my children. The rolls make very comfortable size bites for kids. Slit open and coat them with butter or cheese spread. Or simple spread a generous amount of home made marmalade or jam. Either way, they taste yum. I love having them with honey.

Ingredients
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup refined flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon yeast
1 cup water
1 teaspoon of sesame seeds (optional)
A little butter to smear on the rolls when done (vegans can avoid this)


Method
Heat the water and add sugar. To the lukewarm water, add yeast. Stir well and cover. In the meantime, sieve together wheat flour, refined flour and salt. Add oil and mix well. Check sugar yeast mixture. It should turn frothy in 10-15 minutes. Add this to the flour and knead well. Kneading takes about 10 to 15 minutes. If the dough feels dry, add warm water and knead. It should be smooth and very soft. Grease a round cake tin. Make small size balls of the dough and place in the tin. Keep enough gap between the balls. Cover the tin with a cling film or a damp cloth. Keep in a warm place for an hour. The rolls should rise by now. Brush the top of the rolls with water using pastry brush and sprinkle sesame seeds.  Bake the bread rolls in the pre heated oven at 190 degrees for 25 minutes. Once done, leave them in the oven for five minutes. Remove from the tin and smear butter on the upside of the rolls.



I use instant yeast for baking. Earlier, I used to work with dry yeast which is highly unpredictable. Many a times it has played spoilsport by refusing to become frothy. Instant yeast works well. The dough needs only one rising.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

RAGI BISCUITS




Ragi is a power packed cereal rich in calcium and protein. It is an important ingredient of all the multigrain breads, biscuits and snacks labelled as “health food”. Ragi is known as Madua in Kumaon and is abundantly available round the year. Once, our son who has a sweet tooth, ate up almost half a packet of ragi biscuits of a popular brand meant for diabetics, containing sucralose and strictly not meant for the children. It was then that I thought of trying to make or was rather forced to make ragi biscuits at home. I followed the same recipe that I used to make atta biscuits (posted earlier). In the first lot, I used cinnamon powder which tasted heavenly and in the second lot I used vanilla essence. Both the flavours were great, however, kids preferred the latter.
 

I am very frugal in using butter hence the biscuits are crisp but not melt in the mouth.




Enjoy the biscuits with tea or have them when you feel like “eating something” to satiate that little hunger in between meals.


Ragi Biscuits | Wholegrain Finger millet Biscuits

Ingredients

  • 1 cup ragi flour (finger millets flour)
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (atta)
  • 1 stick (100gms) butter
  • 3/4 cup jaggery powder or powdered sugar
  • 1 ½  teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼  teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½  teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 to 6 tablespoons milk (or more )

Instructions

  1. Take ragi flour in a thick bottom wok. Roast over medium flame.
  2. When the flour begins to change colour, reduce the heat. Stir continuously till it changes colour and a sweet aroma emanates. Turn off the heat. Leave to cool.
  3. Beat butter and sugar till pale and creamy. Add vanilla extract.
  4. Whisk together roasted ragi flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder and salt.
  5. Add dry ingredients to butter mix. Mix with hands so the butter is evenly distributed in the mixture.
  6. Add 4 tablespoons of milk. Mix. Add more milk till the mixture comes together as a soft pliable dough. Milk is used to bind the dough.
  7. Cover the bowl with dough and let the dough rest for 20 minutes.
  8. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
  9. Roll out a circle of about 1/4 th inch thickness. Use a cookie cutter or a bottle cap to cut the biscuits in the shape of your choice.
  10. Arrange biscuits on the baking tray.
  11. Bake biscuits for about 15 minutes or till the edges begin to change colour.
  12. Cool and store in an airtight container. 

My Tip - Watch the biscuits after 10 minutes of baking. Turn off the oven as soon as the edges begin to change colour or else the biscuits will burn. Add 1 teaspoon powdered cinnamon in place of vanilla extract. You'll get a lovely flavour in the biscuits.


Friday, 13 July 2012

ALMOND JAGGERY CAKE

Baking a cake is a pleasurable experience. A well risen springy cake makes my day. Few days back, my daughter whined that I had not baked a cake since long and that she longed to eat one. She requested me to bake one and I readily obliged. It was post afternoon and I was free. The weather was very pleasant. It was cloudy and cold breeze indicated that it was raining in the hills. For me good weather and good mood has a very strong connection with good cooking. Recipes turn out perfect when both the factors are conducive.  I decided to make almond Jaggery cake. Best thing about this cake is that the ingredients are simple and always available at home. This cake has a rustic charm to it. When freshly baked, the jaggery topping makes it chewy. Later, the jaggery makes the top really soft and melt in the mouth. I used whole wheat flour in the cake instead of refined flour.

Ingredients
3 cups whole wheat flour
¾ cup   butter at room temperature
1 ¼   cups powdered sugar
¾ cup roasted and roughly chopped almonds
¾ cup   milk
¾ cup water
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon powder
1 ½ tsp soda bi-carb
1 ½ tablespoon   white vinegar
2 tablespoons crumbled jaggery
a handful of raisins



Method
Grease a round 8 inch cake tin and line with a greased brown paper.
Sieve flour, cinnamon powder and salt in a bowl. Add softened butter and mix well. In a separate bowl, mix together milk, water, sugar, and vinegar. Add soda bi-carb. Add this milk mixture to the bowl containing flour, cinnamon powder and salt. Mix well so that the mixture becomes smooth. Now add to this batter chopped almonds and raisins coated with flour. Reserve some almond for sprinkling on top.  Mix gently.   Pour in the greased tin. Sprinkle the remaining chopped almonds and crumbled jaggery evenly on top. Bake at 180 degrees for about 40 minutes. Insert a skewer. If it comes out clean, the cake is done.



Wednesday, 11 July 2012

NEEM


Neem (Azadirachta indica) is one of the most revered trees in India. It is found everywhere in India. It is common to see Neem trees growing on either side of the roads, in fields, in courtyards and in gardens. Neem has miraculous medicinal and curative properties and has been used in traditional system of medicine since ages. It is a major ingredient of the ayurvedic medicines. About 150 compounds are obtained from different parts of the Neem tree. Neem tree is popularly known as Nature’s Drugstore.

All the parts of the tree- leaves, flowers, seeds and bark are used in different medical preparations. Neem compounds are anti bacterial, anti fungal, anti inflammatory, anti pyretic, anti diabetic, anti tumour, anti malarial and diuretic. Extensive research on Neem has proved its efficacy with no side effects. A paste of Neem leaves with multani mitti makes an excellent face pack. It invigorates the skin and cures boils, acne and pimples. A paste of neem leaves is applied on the scalp to control dandruff and to get rid of lice. Neem leaves are boiled in water and used as herbal bath. It prevents infections in cuts, wounds and abrasions. During summers, it provides relief in prickly heat. Neem bath is also given to the patients recuperating from chicken pox.

Tender leaves of Neem chewed on an empty stomach in the morning help in getting rid of intestinal worms. Neem is a great blood purifier. It bolsters immunity of the body. It builds antibodies and increases the resistance of the body against diseases. It improves circulation and is supposed to be vitaliser. A common tradition believed to be started by king Vikramaditya and practiced till date is to eat Neem leaves with pepper, salt and cumin seeds in the morning on empty stomach on the day of the Hindu New Year.  It keeps one free of diseases round the year. Neem leaves are a great insect repellant. Dry leaves are kept in the cupboards, granaries and other storage areas to ward off insects. Dry leaves are burnt to keep the mosquitoes away. It is an age old practice to chew a twig of Neem called daatun, to clean the teeth. It maintains good oral health and arrests bad breath.


Neem fruit nimboli is soft, sweet and slightly bitter. Ripe fruits are very good for digestion. Neem oil is obtained from the seeds and kernel.. Neem oil is used extensively in shampoos, creams, toothpaste, soaps and skin ointments. The by product called Neem cake or khali   is used as a natural fertilizer in organic farming. It improves soil micro flora and is a very potent pesticide. Neem tree is also very good for the environment. It purifies air and stops desertification. Neem products are used in medicines for curing fever, skin problems, ulcers, diabetes, urinary tract disorders, asthma, bronchitis, gastrointestinal problems, colds and cough.
In Indian household, Neem tree is held in high esteem and is considered to be a sacred tree. It is rightly called “The Panacea for all diseases”.
                                                                                     

Sunday, 8 July 2012

ATTA BISCUITS

Baking biscuits for me was more of a compulsion than a choice. I always used to  think of biscuit making as some kind of  a very difficult skill and never really got my hands into it. My ever hungry kids would always ask for “something to eat” in between meals. To satiate their hunger pangs I would be forced to give them biscuits which they would finish off in no time. It was then that I started scouting around for the recipe. Most of the recipes that I came across had lots of butter and refined flour and did not fit the bill. I kept in mind basic ingredients and proportions and tweaked the recipe. After a few disasters, I came out with a tray of near perfect golden crisp biscuits - the way I wanted.

Ingredients
1 cup atta (whole wheat flour)
50 Gms butter
½ cup powdered sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 pinch soda
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 to 3 tbsp milk while kneading
Method

Sieve together flour, baking powder and soda.




Beat together butter and sugar till light fluffy. Add vanilla essence to butter sugar mixture. Add sieved flour to the mixture. Knead well. If the dough does not bind, add milk very gradually. Dough should be pliable. If it becomes too wet, biscuits will turn out very hard. Dough looks dry. Once the dough is ready, roll out a ½ inch thick chapatti and cut the biscuits using a cookie cutter or a bottle cap.

Arrange the biscuits on a greased baking tray and bake in the pre heated oven at 180 degrees for about 15 minutes or till the biscuits start turning golden from the top. Cool and store in an airtight container.


ATTA BISCUITS

Thursday, 5 July 2012

SAGE

Sage (Salvia officinalis) is a member of mint family. It is an evergreen plant. It has a strong spicy aroma and slightly bitter taste. Sage has great medicinal value. Sage is a memory booster, anti microbial, anti inflammatory, diuretic, astringent and anti oxidant.
Sage is a brain tonic. It eliminates mental tension and improves failing memory. It also improves concentration. Sage tea is had to relieve and reduce stress. Sage leaves are boiled in water. This decoction is used as a lotion and applied on abrasions and ulcers to heal them. A hot compress of this decoction is put on the forehead to relieve headache. A hot compress applied on the abdomen helps in cramps, flatulence and dyspepsia. It also relieves itching and swelling caused by the insect bites. It also gives a great relief in sprains and joint aches. A paste of sage leaves is applied on the scalp to control dandruff and to stop pre-mature graying of hair. Sage has different hot and cold properties. It is a diaphoretic herb. A hot decoction promotes expulsion of wastes and toxins from the body by increasing perspiration. It is effective in cold and cough and is an expectorant. A cold decoction of sage on the other hand acts as an astringent. It decreases sweating and acts as a coolant for the body. A decoction of sage leaves is helpful in oral cavity disorders. It is used as a gargle in tonsils, mouth ulcers, sore throat and laryngitis. Its astringent quality gives relief in loose and bleeding gums and gingivitis. People chew sage leaves to clean their teeth and to strengthen their gums. Most of the herbal toothpastes and mouthwashes contain sage. Sage is most popularly had in the form of tea. Sage tea is an appetite stimulant. It gives relief in typhoid fever. The smoke released from
burning the dried leaves gives relief in Asthma. The leaves of sage are chopped fine and put in boiling water. Its vapours are inhaled to get relief from sinusitis and lung problems. Sage is a remarkable antioxidant. It fights the destructive free radicals in the cells. Sage is believed to have estrogenic biochemicals. It is greatly useful in menopausal symptoms like palpitations, dizziness and hot flushes. It should however be avoided during pregnancy. It is diuretic and helpful in urinary tract infections. One of the most popular uses of sage is for fumigation. Sage leaves are burnt and fumes released. The fumes kill germs and are also believed to cleanse the house of the negative energies. Sage has rightly been called “a miracle herb”.
Sage also has a great culinary value. It has a spicy flavour and is used as a condiment and a flavouring agent. It is used in foods that are fat or protein rich and heavy to digest. It is used in pizzas, soups and stews.
 Sage can be easily cultivated at home. It can be bought from the nursery. It grows well in full sun to partial shade. It can be propagated through stem cuttings. It is a hardy perennial herb. Leaves are best used fresh. The leaves can be plucked, shade dried and stored for use.
                                                                                   

                                                                                                    SAGE

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

GILOY (GUDUCHI)

Guduchi (Tinospora Cordifolia) is known as Giloy in hindi. Giloy is an evergreen herbaceous perennial climbing shrub. It is found growing throughout in tropical India. Guduchi can be seen growing widely on the big trees sometimes thickly covering the entire canopy and hanging from all over the tree. It has a soft stem and heart shaped leaves. It is called Heartleaf Moon seed in English. It is a multipurpose herb used widely in many Ayurvedic preparations. The stem of Giloy has a nutrient starch which is extracted and used in medicine. The taste of the extract is bitter sweet with no distinct flavour. It is believed to impart youthfulness, vitality and longevity and hence it is also called “Amritam” in Sanskrit. In Ayurvedic medicine, Giloy is used as a tonic and as a remedy for diabetes. It reduces blood glucose levels and has anti spasmodic, anti viral, anti bacterial, anti inflammatory and anti pyretic properties. It is diuretic. It is an adaptogen. It helps to build up the immune system and increases the resistance of the body against infections. It also stops pre-mature ageing. Fresh juice obtained from the herb aids digestion. It is an appetizer. It is carminative and controls the secretion of gastric juices. It is a blood purifying herb and helps in treating skin diseases. Giloy extract is the main ingredient in the formulations for treating cardiac weakness, anemia, chronic fever and jaundice. It also helps in treating chronic diarrhea and dysentery. According to ayurvedic concept, giloy is a rasayana herb- A herb that enhances longevity, promotes intelligence and prevents diseases. Giloy can be easily cultivated in the garden. It propagates through the stem cuttings. It grows well in semi shade. It requires moist soil. At home one can harvest the stems in hot season and extract juice and dry it. Once the liquid dries up, white starch is left behind. This is used as medicine. Fresh juice can also be extracted and taken. Capsules of the extracts of guduchi of many well known brands are available in the market.
                                                                                       

                                                                                                      GILOY

LEMON BALM


Lemon Balm (Melissa Officinalis) is a bushy perennial herb of the mint family that grows well in northern temperate regions. It bears rough textured leaves. The plant has fine hairs growing all over and gives out a pleasant lemony scent when crushed. It is also known as Garden balm, sweet balm and Melissa. Lemon balm has great medicinal properties. Leaves of lemon balm are used for making tea. It treats cold, insomnia and indigestion. It is a carminative herb. It relieves spasm in the digestive tract and also relieves flatulence. The tea also lowers blood pressure. A paste of freshly crushed leaves can applied on the wounds for its anti bacterial properties. It also gives relief in insect bites. The crushed leaves when rubbed on the skin make an excellent mosquito repellent. Lemon balm contains essential oils citral, citronellol, geraniol and citronellal. It aids in calming nerves and is a strong anti spasmodic. It is very effective in conditions of migraine that are associated with tension and anxiety induced palpitations. The essential oil is used to cure colds, allergies, diarrhea, menstrual cramps, headache and nausea. Lemon balm also has mild anti-depressive properties. It is mild sedative and reduces stress. It has anti viral properties and is effective against herpes in reducing pain.
Besides medicinal uses, lemon balm also has culinary uses. Lemon balm has a delicate lemony flavour. Freshly chopped leaves are used for garnishing. Leaves are also added to green salads and fruit salads. Lemon balm is used to make herbal teas, both hot and cold. It is also used as a flavouring agent. The essential oil obtained from lemon balm is used in aromatherapy and relaxing aroma baths. It is also used in perfumes.
Lemon grass grows very well in Kumaon region. It is moderately shade tolerant plant.
It can be easily cultivated in pots and gardens. Lemon grass grows in clumps. It grows from seeds and also from stem cuttings. The seeds proliferate themselves and it spreads wildly. Leaves of lemon balm can be collected, shade dried and stored in an airtight container.


                                                                                        LEMON    BALM

Monday, 2 July 2012

CURRY LEAVES


Curry leaves (Murraya koenigi) is the most popular herb of the Indian kitchen. It is an integral part of the south Indian cuisines. It is popularly known as curry patta or kadhi patta. The plant is a shrub. It is commonly found growing in the  backyards and kitchen gardens. Curry leaves grow wildly in the foothills of the Himalayas. The leaves are the edible part. They are dark green and shiny and resemble neem leaves. It is also known as meetha neem.
Curry leaves are an important ingredient of the Indian food specially curries vegetables and chutneys. Curry leaves are aromatic and slightly bitter in taste and are used as seasoning. Besides adding aroma and flavour to the food, the leaves have great medicinal value as well. Curry leaves aid digestion and improve the functioning of the stomach. A very popular Indian kitchen remedy is buttermilk with a paste of curry leaves, salt and powder of roasted cumin seeds. This is had after meals. It helps in digestion, loss of appetite and in removing tastelessness of mouth after fever. The juice of curry leaves is effective in heartburn. A paste of curry leaves with honey is useful for treating excessive vomiting in pregnant women. This concoction is also useful in dysentery, diarrhea and nausea. According to a research, a paste of   8 to 10 curry leaves taken in the morning on an empty stomach for three months may help in controlling non insulin dependent diabetes mellitus. Curry leaves contain agents that slow down the amount of glucose entering the bloodstream. Curry leaves also have weight reducing properties and may control diabetes due to obesity. Curry leaves contain volatile essential oil, vitamins and minerals and make a great herbal mouthwash. Chew 4 to 5 curry leaves with a little water. Keep it in the mouth for sometime and rinse the mouth. It is excellent for good oral health. Curry leaves are good for hair. Add a handful of curry leaves to about 500ml of coconut oil. Heat the oil till the leaves turn black. According to ayurveda, this is a herbal tonic for hair and regular application of this oil to the scalp simulates the growth of hair and stops pre-mature graying of hair. In our villages, curry leaves have been traditionally used to treat minor burns, bruises and insect bites by applying externally as a poultice.
Curry leaf plant can be easily grown at home. It can be grown in the garden as well as in the pots. It grows well in the warm temperature. It can be easily propagated by seeds, root cutting or from the small suckers in the base of the plant. Curry leaves should be used fresh. Leaves can also be shade dried and stored for use.
                                                                                        


                                                                                          CURRY LEAVES

BRAHMI


Brahmi (Gotu Kola) is a small creeping herb commonly found growing in humid, wet and damp soil. It can be seen growing around lakes, ponds and streams. Its scientific name is Bacopa monnieri and is commonly called the Indian pennywort. It is also known as “Brahm booti”. In Ayurveda, Brahmi is held in high esteem. The name Brahmi literally means “God like”. Brahmi is a well known brain tonic and a memory booster. It improves the brain cell function. It has a unique ability to invigorate mental processes and reduces nervous anxiety. Brahmi induces a sense of calm and peace. Regular intake of Brahmi improves concentration and increases learning capacity. It has shown positive results in the patients suffering from insomnia. It has a tranquilizing and pacifying effect on the mind and wipes away the negative effects of stress. Brahmi is rightly called the “food for brain.”
Brahmi is also a blood purifier. It is effective in healing the injured tissues, skin rashes, acne, eczema and psoriasis. A paste of brahmi   is very effective in   treating burns. Brahmi has a positive effect on the circulatory system. It strengthens the veins and capillaries. Regular intake of brahmi gives relief in muscle cramps. It helps in maintaining the normal level of blood pressure. It is a mild laxative and diuretic. It maintains normal body temperature. It is very effective in amenorrhea and diarrhoea. Brahmi is a very potent antioxidant. It slows down aging. Brahmi also has anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-allergic effects.
Brahmi can be cultivated if adequate water supply is available. It propagates by seeds or cutting. Fresh Brahmi leaves can be taken in the morning. The leaves can also be shade dried, powdered and used. Many ayurvedic preparations have extracts of Brahmi as one of the main ingredients. Capsules of Brahmi extracts are also available in the market.


BRAHMI GROWING WILD IN GARDEN
                                                                

RICE GRUEL

Last week, we went to a resort in the periphery of the Corbett National Park. Our swimming pool starved kids just freaked out at the sight of pool. So tempting was the pool that we almost became invisible for our darlings. Every thing we said or asked was answered with a total indifferent attitude. For us it was a torture getting them out of the pool even for their measly meals. From early morning to late evening they would just hang around in pool as if they owned the place. And by the second day the inevitable happened. The scorching heat and exhaustion made them sick. They had infection in the stomach. That’s when I remembered the time tasted age old recipe that my grand mother would vouch for. I made rice gruel for them. With no spices and lots of curds, it is easy to digest has a cooling effect on the body and is really soothing. In my parent’s home, it is almost a ritual to have it at least once every week. It is surely not a patient’s food on the contrary I would recommend this magic potion at least once every week with what ever accompaniments you wish to have it with.
Ingredients
1 cup cooked rice
2 cups fresh curds, beaten
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp oil
1 pinch asafoetida
Curry leaves
Salt to taste
Method
Soak rice for an hour. Pressure    cook the rice with salt. Rice has to be overcooked. Cooked rice should look like porridge.  When the rice gets cold, add curds and mix well. Heat oil, add mustard. When mustard starts spluttering, add asafoetida and curry leaves. Add the tempering to the cooked rice. Mix well and serve.

                                                                                             RICE GRUEL
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