“We have so much, too much, that we can buy, yet the basic labor of doing, the making with our own hands, is what enlivens us and makes us feel human." Dan Lepard

Monday, 31 December 2012

PEANUTS


Come winters and the roadside thelas roasting peanuts in sand can be spotted in every nook and corner of the town. This is symbolic of the winter season. Peanuts are a popular snack. Peanuts (Archis hypogaea) belong to the legume or the bean family. Peanuts are known by many other names like Ground nuts, Monkey nuts, Earth nuts, Goober nuts, Pig nuts etc. In Hindi peanuts are called Mungphali. Interestingly, the fruits of the peanut plant develop under the ground. After the process of self pollination, the flowers of peanut plant wither and fall off. The stalk of the ovary turns downwards and buries itself in the ground. The fruits develop under the ground.

Peanuts are packed with all the essential nutrients good for health. Peanuts are rich in protein, carbohydrates, calcium, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, potassium, Vitamin E, VitaminB3 (niacin), VitaminB5 (pantothenic acid), VitaminB9 (folate) and essential dietary fiber. Peanuts contain anti-oxidants. The process of roasting peanuts increases its anti oxidant content remarkably. The peanuts also contain resveratrol a substance that reduces the risk of cancer and the risk of cardiovascular diseases. It is also an anti ageing chemical. The anti oxidants, vitamin E and resveratrol in peanuts help to combat ageing. Peanuts are also rich in phytosterols. Phytosterols are the compounds that absorb cholesterol from the blood and thus prevent the associated cardio vascular problems. Peanuts are also a rich source of fats. However, these fats are not the harmful fats. These are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These fats lower bad cholesterol levels and help in maintaining a healthy heart. The peanuts also contain essential fatty acids namely linolenic acid and linolenic acid. These fatty acids collectively help in maintaining healthy skin and healthy hair, keeps the blood pressure in control and are vital for growth.

Peanuts make healthy snacks. They are a popular food all over the world and is consumed in different forms. Shelled peanuts are available in the market round the year. They are consumed in the roasted form or fried form with herbs and spices. Peanut flour is used in many cuisines. Besides being a good source of protein, it also enhances the flavour of the dish. Peanut flour is also used in the bakery and confectionery. Peanut butter is another popular way of consuming peanuts. It is made by roasting peanuts and grinding them in a mixer with a little salt and a pinch of sugar. It makes a delicious spread for making sandwiches. Peanuts can be boiled till soft and had with salt, pepper and a dash of lime juice. It makes a tasty snack. People popularly have peanuts with jaggery. The minerals in jaggery along with the nutrients in peanuts make it a very healthy combination. Peanut chikki is made of roasted peanuts and caramelized jaggery or sugar. Peanuts are also added to chocolates and sweets. Peanuts are added to dishes like upma and poha. Mungphali barfi made of peanuts and sugar is also a popular sweet. Most of the namkeens contain peanuts. India is the second largest producer of peanuts after China. Fresh crop of peanuts reaches the market during winters. The shelled peanuts however are available at the grocers round the year. If possible, one must consume a handful of roasted peanuts everyday.
So next time when you want to take a snack break, reach out for groundnuts and get all the health benefits it has to offer.
 Here are some of the recipes in my blog where I have used Peanuts                
1. PEANUT BURFI                                                            

ALMOND - THE KING OF THE NUTS

Almond is known as the king of the nuts. It is known as badam in Hindi. Almond is the fruit of a medium size tree that bears   fragrant pink and white flowers. Almond belongs to the same family as apricot and peach. The tree bears fruits with stone like seeds. The nut inside the seed is referred to as almond nut.
Almond has immense health benefits. Almonds have a very high amount of protein. Almonds are also very rich in fiber, calcium, phosphorous, potassium, magnesium, zinc, iron and vitamin E. almonds are high in fat. But most of the fat is monounsaturated and is beneficial fat. It has been associated with reduced risk of heart disease. Besides these, almonds also contain antioxidants, phyto-chemicals and all the essential amino acids.

Almonds help in maintaining the strength of brain, nerves, bones, heart and liver. Almonds are very good for preserving the vitality of brain, strengthening the muscles and in prolonging life. Scientists have observed a link between consumption of almonds and cancer. The flavonoids in almonds are found to be strong suppressors of tumour cells. Almonds also provide protection against diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Almonds provide various minerals essential for bone health. Calcium, phosphorous, manganese, magnesium found almonds are good for teeth and bones and maintain bone mineral density. Regular consumption over a period prevents osteoporosis. Almonds are also a very good source of copper. Copper helps to carry oxygen in the body and keeps bones, blood vessels and nerves healthy. Almonds regulate blood pressure. Almonds are also very good for constipation. Almonds work as an excellent laxative. Almonds help in the formation of new blood cells and hemoglobin. Almonds are rich in vitamin E and therefore very good for skin and hair. It is a natural beauty aid. A paste of almond and milk makes a very gentle face scrub. It removes the dead cells, makes skin soft, bleaches and nourishes the skin. Regular application of almond milk paste prevents dryness and appearance of wrinkles. Almond oil is obtained from the dried kernels of almonds. It is also called sweet almond oil. Almond oil is very good for the hair. It treats thinness of hair, dandruff and regular application prevents pre-mature graying. Sweet almond oil is also used as base oil in aromatherapy. This oil has been traditionally used as massage oil. It is an emollient soothes dry and irritated skin, makes skin soft and supple. Almond oil is known as roghan badam in Ayurveda. In Ayurveda, almond is considered very good for brain function and nervous system. In increases intelligence and longevity and promotes calmness of the mind and nerves. The young badam is also eaten while it is still developing. It is called green almond. It is green and fleshy and the inner shell has not hardened.
Almonds should be consumed in the natural form. While buying almonds one should ensure that they are of the fresh harvest. Generally grocers sell old almonds. Fresh almonds have a sweet and fresh taste and are brittle. Almonds should be either soaked overnight and had in the morning or consumed whole. Almonds should be liberally added to custard, puddings, cakes, kheer and home made sweets Almonds should be consumed raw, unroasted and unsalted to reap maximum health benefits.
                                                                                

 Here are some of the recipes in my blog where I have used Almonds

SEMOLINA PUDDING

In my endeavour to make everyday meals more nutritious, I incorporate a lot of whole grains, nuts, fruits and seeds in our food. In most of the breads and cakes that I bake, I use whole wheat flour. I keep experimenting with conventional recipes by adding healthy ingredients. To make kids eat healthy food, I have developed a lot tricks whereby healthy ingredients are beautifully hidden in their favourite food. I often add almond meal to porridges and breads. Recently I made their favourite semolina pudding by adding almond meal and flax meal. My kids enjoyed it. They would have never had flax seeds otherwise. Here goes the recipe-

Ingredients
4 tablespoons semolina
2 ½ cups milk
4 tablespoons crumbled jaggery or brown sugar
12 almonds
5 to 6 dried figs
2 teaspoons flaxseeds
Handful of raisins
Handful of cashew nuts
Seeds of four cardamoms

Method
Roast semolina in medium flame till a sweet aroma emanates and colour begins to change. Add milk and cook till done. Powder almonds and flax seeds. Add to semolina. Cook for another five minutes. Turn off the gas. Add crumbled jaggery. Add raisins, cashews nuts and figs. Powder the cardamom seeds and add to the pudding. Serve hot.

My Notes: After adding almond meal and flax meal, pudding becomes thick. You may add more milk to get desired consistency. Do not cook after adding jaggery as it may curdle the milk. You may also add jaggery or brown sugar according to your taste.

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

CHRISTMAS CAKE


The joy of brightening other lives, bearing each others’ burdens, easing other’s loads and supplanting empty hearts and lives with generous gifts becomes for us the magic of Christmas.”  - W.C. Jones

Every year Christmas brings with it loads of childhood memories. Decorating Christmas tree with stars and bells all made at home, sticking cotton balls resembling wisps of snow…hanging sweets and balloons on the fragile branches of the tree.  Christmas also meant presents from Santa. We sometimes wondered how Santa knew exactly what we wanted and gifted only the things we needed sometimes crayons or a set of handkerchief or a set of pencils till we discovered that our dad was our Santa. Christmas also meant cakes. Since our small town had no bakeries, dad baked used to bake one at home. Christmas meant joy, mirth, warmth of home and love of dear ones….

Now playing Santa to my kids, giving them presents, and also to my ageing parents gifting them things they need to face harsh winters I feel the same warmth, love, joy of  caring and sharing which is the true spirit of Christmas.
In this post I share with you the recipe of Christmas cake passed on to me by my teacher – Alma Franks.

Ingredients
Fruits and Nuts
½   cup golden raisins and black currants
1/3 cup chopped figs
½ cup mixed chopped nuts (pecan nuts, walnuts and cashew nuts)
Soak the fruits and nuts in dark rum for at least 24 hours. Soak in a wide mouthed jar and shake the jar occasionally.
Cake batter
1 ½ cups All purpose flour
1 ½ sticks butter (about 150 Gms)
1 ½ cups sugar powdered
3 eggs
2 tablespoons rum
Caramel from ½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon mixed spice powder (¼ teaspoon each of powdered cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and cardamom)

Method
Prepare caramel. Take ½ cup sugar in a thick bottom wok and keep it on low flame. The sugar will start melting. Swirl the wok. When the sugar turns golden and starts bubbling, turn off the gas. Add ½ cup of water and stir till caramel dissolves. Keep aside.  Drain the fruits and nuts soaked in rum and toss in a tablespoon of flour. Beat the white of the eggs till stiff. Cream together butter and sugar; add egg yolks and vanilla extract. Add spice powder, rum and caramel. Mix well. Sieve together all purpose flour and baking powder. Add flour in parts mixing well each time. Once the flour is evenly mixed, add egg whites to the batter mixing well. In the end add rum soaked fruits and nuts. Fold gently. Grease and line an 8 inch round cake tin. Bake in preheated oven at 180 degrees C for 50 to 60 minutes till the cake turns golden and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and remove from the cake tin after 15 minutes. Invert on the rack to cool. Keep the cake wrapped in foil for 4 to 5 days for the flavours to seep in.


Christmas is forever, not for just one day, for loving, sharing, giving are not to put away like bells and lights and tinsel, in some box upon a shelf. The good you do for others is good you do to yourself.” – Norman W Brooks

Monday, 24 December 2012

CARROT PARANTHA / CARROT FILLED FLATBREAD

Children have an innate dislike for any food termed as “healthy”. And knowing my kids’ aversion to some healthy veggies, I have acquired dexterity in concealing nutritious vitamin enriched veggies in the eatables of their liking. And in this quest for making healthy food for them, I “invented” the recipe of Carrot Paranthas.

Carrots are loaded with vitamins. Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, which is converted into vitamin A in the liver. Beta-carotene has also been shown to protect against cataracts. A high level of beta-carotene also acts as an antioxidant and prevents cell damage. Vitamin A and antioxidants protects the skin from sun damage. Thus preventing premature wrinkling, dry skin, pigmentation and blemishes. Research has shown that diets high in carotenoids are associated with a lower risk of heart disease.  Carrots have not only beta-carotene but also alpha-carotene and lutein.The regular consumption of carrots also reduces cholesterol levels because carrots are high in soluble fibers.
 Ingredients
Dough
2 cups whole wheat flour (atta)
1 ½ teaspoons salt ( or to taste)
¾ cups warm water
Filling
4 carrots grated thickly
Other Ingredients
Some dry flour for rolling out paranthas.
Oil

Method
Squeeze out the juice from the grated carrots. Use this juice to knead dough. Mix whole wheat flour and salt. Add carrot juice and warm water and knead dough. The dough should not be very soft. Let the dough rest for a minimum of 30 minutes. Take a lemon sized ball of the dough, press it between palms, apply some dry flour and roll out a small circle. Add a table spoon of grated carrots, sprinkle a pinch of salt. Cover all sides and roll gently to make a chapatti. Heat the tawa (griddle) and put the parantha on the tawa. When golden specs begin to appear on the lower side, apply a teaspoon of olive oil and cook till golden and crisp. Repeat on the other side.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

EGGLESS WHOLE WHEAT DATE AND WALNUT CAKE

21st December is over and we are all here! Time to celebrate life…… value and enjoy things we take for granted…. relish the beauty of the nature around us - mesmerizing mornings and enchanting sunsets, blossoms, birds, butterflies flitting from flower to flower or simply the warmth of the Sun on a cold winter morn! Yes, life is indeed beautiful….
Coming to the recipe, I baked whole wheat egg less dates and walnut cake. This recipe uses condensed milk and hence does not need sugar.

Ingredients
¾ cup whole wheat flour (atta)
½ tin condensed milk
½ cup dates (pitted and chopped finely)
½ cup walnuts (chopped finely)
½ cup oil
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon vanilla essence

                                             A Magpie Robin Bathing......
                                                                  ..........and drying herself

Method
Sift whole wheat flour with baking powder. Add walnuts, keep aside. Take chopped dates in a pan, add six tablespoons water and simmer for two minutes. Turn off the gas. When dates and water mixture becomes lukewarm, add baking soda and let it rest for 20 minutes. Add this to sieved flour. Beat oil, condensed milk and milk till smooth. Add vanilla essence. In the end add dates and flour. Grease and line one 8 inch x 5 1/2 inch  baking tin. Pour the batter and bake in a pre heated oven at 150 degrees C for 45 minutes or till a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and remove from the baking tin after 15 minutes. Invert on the cooling rack.

Slice when cold.

Friday, 21 December 2012

FENUGREEK(METHI)

Fenugreek ( Trigonella foenum-graecum) is an annual green plant. It belongs to the family - Fabaceae. It is known as Methi in Hindi. The tender green leaves are eaten as a vegetable. The leaves are bitter aromatic and nutritious. The plant when mature bears pods with seeds. The seeds are tiny, hard, oblong and brownish yellow in colour. The seeds are bitter. Fenugreek is one of the oldest cultivated medicinal plants. The leaves are used as a herb and the seeds are used as a spice. The seeds have a great medicinal value. The seeds contain mucilage, volatile oils and alkaloids. They also contain iron, sodium, thiamine and selenium. Traditionally, fenugreek seeds been considered a digestive aid that stimulate gastric activity and improves appetite. It is carminative. It is a natural expectorant. It relieves coughing, sinus, congestion in the lungs and also removes excess phlegm. It is a laxative. Fenugreek seeds are used in treating boils and cysts. The seeds are powdered and added to the poultice. It reduces swelling and prevents infection. The mucilagins in the seeds soothe the inflamed tissues. Fenugreek is diuretic. It also stimulates perspiration and brings down fever. It also controls certain allergies and removes toxins from the respiratory system.  A lot of research has been done on the positive effects of fenugreek seeds in controlling Type1 and Type2 diabetes. Regular consumption of fenugreek seeds are believed to lower serum cholesterol and triglycerides. Fenugreek seeds are believed to increase the number of insulin receptors in blood cells and thus improve glucose utilization in the peripheral tissues. The amino acids present in the seeds may stimulate insulin secretion. Fenugreek seeds also stimulate breast milk production in the feeding mothers. Besides curative powers, Fenugreek also has culinary uses. The leaves of the plant are shade dried. Dry leaves have a very strong aroma and are used as a seasoning. Dried leaves are used in papads, khakhras, chapattis and breads. Fenugreek seeds are used in pickles and chutneys. The seeds are also used for seasoning. The seeds are roasted, powdered and used in curries along with other spices. A decoction made by boiling roasted and powdered seeds in water is popularly had to aid digestion. It has a strong coffee like aroma. It is also had as a substitute for coffee. During winters, methi seeds are consumed by adding them to the laddos. In south, fenugreek seeds are powdered and put in the dosa and idli batter. A teaspoonful of sprouted fenugreek   seeds can be had with breakfast. Methi seeds are a very good conditioner for hair. A paste made by soaking the seeds overnight and grinding them to a fine paste and mixing with curd is applied to the hair.

Fenugreek can be easily cultivated at home. It can be grown from the seeds. It requires a lot of sunlight and well drained soil. The tender leaves and stem can be used for vegetable. Tender leaves can be plucked and shade dried. Seeds can be obtained from the mature plants. Fenugreek is also used as a feed for livestock. Fenugreek is a leguminous plant. It fixes nitrogen and thus enriches the soil.

Recipes in my blog where I have used Fenugreek-
1. Fenugreek Parathas        

Thursday, 20 December 2012

CORIANDER


Coriander (Coriandrum Sativum) is a small plant of the Umbelliferae family. It is one of the most common and popular herbs of the Indian kitchen and an integral part of our cooking. It is an erect plant with tender stem. The leaves and stem have a sweet aroma are used to garnish and season the vegetables and curries. The leaves are also used to make chutneys, soups and sauces. The seeds when mature are dried and used in cooking. It is known as Dhania in Hindi. It is also known by different names like Cilantro and Chinese parsley.

Coriander is a native of the Mediterranean region. It is extensively cultivated in India, China, Thailand, Europe, North America and South America. Besides imparting flavour and aroma to the dishes, it is also of great medicinal value. Coriander contains iron, calcium, phosphorus, carotene, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, sodium, potassium and vitamin C. Coriander has been used in our traditional kitchen cabinet remedies since ages. It has always been used for treating indigestion, stomach ache and loss of appetite. Chutney made by grinding a bunch of fresh coriander, 3-4 buds of garlic with fresh lime juice, a little sugar and salt is a very good appetizer. It is had with the main meals. It improves appetite and aids digestion. Coriander is diaphoretic and gives relief in fever. It also gives relief in coughs, chest pains and dysentery.
Coriander seeds are aromatic. Mature seeds are dried and ground. This powder known as dhania powder is used in cooking. It is used as a spice and is the main ingredient of garam masala and all the other masalas used in the curries. Coriander seeds also have curative properties and it is also called a “healing spice”. The seeds are rich in iron, magnesium, flavonoids and phytonutrients. It is also a good source of dietary fiber. The seeds have anti inflammatory properties and give relief in the painful symptoms of arthritis. It is diuretic and prevents urinary tract infections. Research proves that it lowers sugar, lowers bad cholesterol and raises good cholesterol. Coriander is carminative. It gives relief in nausea and alleviates intestinal gas. A decoction prepared by boiling seeds in water till the water quantity reduces to half is used to wash eyes in conjunctivitis. Similar decoction with sugar is used to check excessive menstrual flow. Coriander seeds and leaves help in halitosis. The seeds and leaves are chewed to stop bad breath. The kernel of the seeds is eaten as mouth freshener. A paste of coriander seeds is applied to treat the mouth ulcers. Coriander is considered to be both a herb and a spice.
Oil obtained from coriander seeds has anti bacterial properties and is used to treat gas in the intestines, neuralgia and rheumatism. The oil is also used in the perfumes and a number of other pharmaceutical preparations.
Coriander has been an integral part of our kitchen garden. It requires a lot of sun and well aerated soil.  It should be sown during the onset of winters and can be harvested throughout the season. The seeds should be collected when they become brownish yellow. Coriander is available in abundance these days. Garnish your curries generously with it and reap its health benefits.
                                                                                               
                                                       

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

WHOLE WHEAT ORANGE YOGURT CAKE

Hills have received the first snowfall of the season. It is chilly in the foothills. Weather has a profound influence on our dietary preferences. The batch of oranges that we got from the hills was sitting in the basket, ignored. With the Sun hiding behind the clouds and mercury dipping, no one was keen to have oranges.  They had to be used in some recipe as they had shriveled and were almost on the verge of rotting. I had bookmarked a recipe – LIME BUTTERMILK POUND CAKE from the blog Passionate About Baking. With so many oranges to be used, this was the right time to try out this cake. I made some changes in the original recipe, salvaged the oranges and the family enjoyed WHOLE WHEAT ORANGE YOGURT CAKE.


I used whole wheat flour instead of all purpose flour, orange juice in place of lime juice and yogurt in place of buttermilk.
Whole wheat makes cake a little dense. But the cake tastes great and is high on nutrition!

The Black Beauty! snapshot of a butterfly in our garden.

Ingredient
Cake
1 ¼ cups whole wheat flour (atta)
1 cup powdered sugar
100 Gms (½ cup butter) at room temperature
2 eggs
½ cup curd
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
Juice of 1 ½ orange
Zest of an orange
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
Glaze
 ½ cup sugar
Juice or two oranges
Method
Cake
Cream together butter and sugar. Add yolks, vanilla essence, orange juice, zest and mix well. Beat white of the eggs till stiff and add to this mixture. Sieve whole wheat flour with salt, baking powder and baking soda two times. Beat curd lightly till smooth. Add the flour to butter sugar mixture in three parts adding curd every time while mixing.
Grease and line a 6 inch round cake tin. Bake in a pre heated oven at 170 degrees C for 50 to 55 minutes or till the top of the cake turns golden and the skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from the oven and remove from the tin after 10 minutes. Transfer the cake to the rack. Meanwhile prepare the glaze…

Glaze
Heat sugar and orange juice in a thick bottom vessel stirring continuously till sugar dissolves. When still warm, pierce the top of the cake with a fork or a skewer and pour the glaze on top of the cake.

Cool the cake completely before slicing.

Monday, 17 December 2012

DAAL PARANTHA

I first had Daal Parantha at my in law’s place. My mother in law is a great cook. She has the knack of preparing delicious food in a jiffy. She loves cooking and loves feeding others all the more. She once prepared Daal Parantha for breakfast and I fell in love with the recipe. Since then I have been experimenting with different daals (lentils) to make paranthas. This is a great way of using leftover daal. However, I purposely reserve a bowl of daal to make them for my daughter’s tiffin.

Ingredients
A bowl of cooked Daal (lentils)
Flour (atta) depending on the quantity of daal
3-4 Chopped spring onions or one finely chopped onion.
 1/2 bunch Chopped coriander leaves
Salt to taste (optional)

My mother in law.
Method
Empty daal into a kneading plate. Add chopped onions and coriander. Add salt. Add a cup of flour. Mix well and knead the flour. Add flour slowly. It should be just enough to knead soft dough. Use daal to knead flour. Do not add water.

Now roll out paranthas. Place parantha on the hot plate and cook till spots appear. Smear a little oil and cook till golden. Repeat on the other side.

Daal paranthas are extremely soft. Enjoy these paranthas with curd and pickle or just plain with a veggie.


My Notes: make these paranthas with Arhar (toor), moong or malka (red lentil). If the daal has heeng tadka (asafetida tempering), omit onions. Heeng gives a great flavour to paranthas.

KIWIFRUIT JAM

We could not believe our eyes when we saw hairy brown Kiwifruits growing in a resort near Bhowali. Yes, Kiwifruits are being cultivated in Kumaon on a large scale. They are being grown in Bhowali, Ramgarh and  Mukteshwar belt which is known as “The Fruit Bowl of Kumaon”. On our way back home, we picked up two boxes of this yummy fruit from the Bhowlai fruit mart. The ripe ones were consumed in no time. The other box had semi ripe fruits and needed to be kept for a week or so. Once they ripened, I made Kiwifruit Jam.


The variety of kiwifruit growing in Kumaon is the fuzzy kiwifruit which is native to southern China. It has now been declared a “National Fruit of China”. Originally the fruit was known as Yang Tao and later called the Chinese Gooseberry. The export market to the United States started marketing the fruit by the name “melonette”. Since both melons and berries attracted high duties, the San Francisco importers suggested a short Maori name. Around 1962 it was proposed that the fruit be called “Kiwi”, after New Zealand’s national symbol Kiwi, as the bird and the fruit share a similar appearance(small, brown and furry).

Kiwifruit is a rich source of Vitamin C, Vitamin E, small amounts of Vitamin A and potassium. Kiwifruit seeds contains omega -3 fatty acid and the fruit is a good source of dietary fiber. (Source- Wikipedia)

 Ingredients
12-15 ripe Kiwifruits
Sugar (depending on the quantity of fruit pulp)
Lemon juice
Method
Peel the ripe Kiwi fruits with the help of a peeler.

With the help of a fork or with hands, mash them to get pulp.

Now measure the pulp. For every one cup of pulp, add ¾ cup of sugar and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice. Mix well and let it rest for about two hours or till the sugar dissolves completely. Transfer the contents to a heavy bottom non aluminum vessel and cook on medium flame. The jam starts boiling. It needs to be stirred continuously or else it starts sticking to the bottom of the vessel. When the quantity reduces to half and the jam starts coating the ladle thickly, it is done. Turn off the gas.
While the jam is getting cold, it is time to sterilize the bottles.
Place the washed and dried bottles with the lids in the oven. Set the temperature to 100 degrees and set the timer to 10 minutes. Remove the bottles and their lids from the oven. Ladle hot jam into the jars leaving ¼ inch headspace. Secure the lids tightly.


If you liked this recipe and tried in your kitchen, do write to me. I would love to hear from you :)

Friday, 14 December 2012

CANDIED PEELS




It is citrus season in the hills. The trees are over laden with the citrus fruits. Limes, lemons, oranges, sweet limes, Malta, Jameer .............….you name it and its there. A typical house in a Kumaoni village has a lot of fruit trees around it and it is customary to have a citrus variety. With the clear view of the Himalayas, hills are a visual delight these days.


 Life is all about turning disadvantage into opportunity. Our small town has a very few departmental stores and none of them sell candied peels. Since we had a lot of maltas and lemons at home, I decided to make the candied peels at home for the Christmas cake.


I made candied peels from Maltas and later with the same recipe from lemons. Both tasted different and came out very well.



Candied Orange Peels are citrus lovers’ heaven. Use them in cakes, cookies or simply dip the peels in melted dark chocolate, they are a burst of citrusy flavour. Cut them into fine pieces and sprinkle on desserts and ice cream. Candied orange peels also make a great mouth freshener.
You use oranges or any citrus for making candied peels.



Candied Orange Peels

Ingredients
4 Oranges or Lemons or any local citrus
2 cups Sugar
2 cups water
½ cup powdered sugar.

Method
Remove zest of the oranges with a vegetable peeler.
Using kitchen scissors, cut the strips lengthwise into juliennes or you may cut the peels into ¼ inch wide strips
Place the peels in a heavy bottom pan and add cold water just enough to cover the peels. Bring to a boil. Drain. Repeat this process thrice.  This mellows the bitterness. The peels should turn tender.
In a heavy bottom saucepan or a wok, add water and sugar and bring it to a boil.
Add peels to the boiling syrup and reduce the heat.
Let the peels cook for an hour or till the syrup begins to vanish and the peels turn translucent. Remove from the heat.
Transfer the peel to a wire rack with help of a fork. Let them rest till completely cold.
Roll them in powdered sugar and store in an airtight container.



Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Flax meal Whole Wheat Bread




Flax meal bread is one of the most nutritious breads. It has all the goodness of flaxseeds and whole wheat. Flaxseeds are an excellent source of omega -3 fats. They are also a very good source of soluble fiber. Three tablespoons of flax seeds provide about thirty percent of recommended fiber intake. Flax seeds contain vitamin E, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B1, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, zinc and copper. Flax seeds also contain lignans. Lignans are a type of fiber- a phytoestrogen. Lignans are known to be anti bacterial, anti viral and anti fungal. Lignans are believed to have anti cancer properties and are beneficial for the heart. (Read my post FLAX SEEDS under the label Garden herbs and Medicinal Plants)

Flax meal bread has whole wheat flour. The bread has  dense and heavy crumb. It has sweetness of honey. Enjoy with steamed vegetables, with honey or home made jam.
Ingredients
1 cup Flax meal.
1 ½ cup whole wheat flour (atta)
½ cup all purpose flour
1 tablespoon olive oil (or any vegetable oil)
3 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cup warm water.
1 tablespoon flax seeds. 
Method
To prepare flax meal, clean the flaxseeds available in the market.

 Grind them to a fine powder.

 Measure one cup. Sieve together whole wheat flour, all purpose flour and salt.
Add flax meal, yeast, oil and honey and mix well. Now add warm water. Knead well adding water gradually. The dough is a little sticky because of honey. Knead for about 6 to 8 minutes. The dough should be smooth and elastic.
Grease a loaf tin. Shape the dough into a loaf and place it in the loaf tin. Keep it in a warm place for about an hour or till it becomes double the original size.
Dab water on the loaf and sprinkle flax seeds. Bake in a pre heated oven at 180 degrees C for 20 to 25 minutes. The top should turn golden brown and the bottom of the tin should sound hollow when tapped.
 Remove from the oven and remove from the loaf tin after five minutes.

Cool on the wire rack and slice only when completely cold.

If you are not using instant yeast, then add a teaspoon of sugar to one cup of warm water when sugar dissolves; add 2 teaspoons of active yeast and cover. In about fifteen minutes, the mixture will turn frothy. Use this to knead the dough. When using this method, reduce the quantity of honey to 2 tablespoons.


FLAX SEEDS

Flaxseed (linum usitatissimum) also called Linseed is known as Alsi in Hindi. Flaxseeds are small shiny seeds with hard shell. The seeds are slightly larger than the sesame seeds. The seed are brown, reddish brown or golden in colour depending on the variety. The plants belong to the Linaceae family. The seeds are edible and have a warm, earthy and nutty flavour. Flaxseeds are an excellent source of omega -3 fats. It is also a very good source of soluble fiber. Three tablespoons of flax seeds provide about thirty percent of recommended fiber intake. Flax seeds contain vitamin E, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B1, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, zinc and copper. Flax seeds also contain lignans. Lignans are a type of fiber- a phytoestrogen. Lignans are known to be anti bacterial, anti viral and anti fungal. Lignans are believed to have anti cancer properties and are beneficial for the heart. Lignans in flax seeds have received a lot of scientific attention. Various researches show that lignans may have a positive role in preventing the growth of tumours and in prevention of breast cancer and prostrate cancer.

Flax seeds are good for heart as they contain a high level of omega-3 fatty acids which lower cholesterol levels. Omega-3 fats also reduce the risk of formation of blood clots which can reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke in patients with arthrosclerosis. Regular consumption of flax also reduces blood pressure. Being high in soluble fiber, flax seeds promote colon health. It is a natural lubricant for the intestines and an excellent natural laxative. It is advisable to consume flax in moderate quantity. Excessive consumption can cause intestinal blockage. One must consume enough water if   taking flaxseeds in high quantities. Flax may also lessen the severity of diabetes by stabilizing blood sugar levels. Regular consumption of flax also helps to reduce the severity of asthma. Magnesium in flax relaxes the airways and keeps them open. Consumption of flax also prevents blood vessel spasm that may lead to migraine.  Regular consumption of flaxseeds promotes relaxation and normal sleep patterns. Flax is particularly beneficial for women. Being rich in lignans, flax seeds lessen the chance of developing cancer. It promotes normal ovulation, eases the menopausal complications, reduces the development of breast cysts, promotes regular menstrual cycle, controls heavy bleeding, fluid retention, mood swings, irritability, anxiety, checks excessive weight gain and restores hormonal balance in the body. Regular dietary intake of flax also reduces the risk of dry eye syndrome which may lead to several ocular complications.
Flax seeds are available at the grocery stores and departmental stores. The seeds can be roasted and sprinkled on salads and cereals and breads. Flax seeds can be ground and the flour can be added to cake batter. It can be mixed with flour to make breads, pancakes paranthas and chapattis. Best way to have flax is to roast the seeds and grind them just before consuming. This preserves the nutrition and retains the flavour. A handful of roasted flaxseeds, four to five cloves of garlic, a bunch of fresh coriander with salt and a pinch of sugar can be grinded finely   to make smooth chutney. This makes an excellent sandwich spread and a tangy and healthy accompaniment to snacks and meals.
Flaxseeds also produce a vegetable oil known as flaxseed oil or Linseed oil. It is a rich source of alpha linolenic acid (ALA) – an omega- 3 fat. It is a very good alternative for fish oil supplement for vegetarians. Flaxseed oil should not be used for cooking as heat destroys the healthy fats. Flaxseed oil is best added to foods after cooking and just before serving and it works best in the body when it is taken along with vitamin E, vitamin B6, or magnesium.             
                                        
Flaxseed oil should be kept in dark bottles and kept in refrigerator. The oil turns rancid if exposed to light, air and heat. 

View the recipe of  FLAX MEAL BREAD .
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