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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Healthy Kids Make for Happy Mothers

Ask any mother what she asks from God in her everyday prayers. Nine out of ten would reply that their foremost wish is the health of their children. Only when the kids are healthy and happy, would they be able to focus on other things. Whether she is a stay-at-home mother or a career woman, the ability to carry out her daily responsibilities revolves around her children.

A happy kid is a bundle of positive energy and has the ability to light up everyone's spirits. Whether it is turning the house upside down or leaving a mess in their wake, their antics become part of the family anecdotes. But on the other end, a sick child is like an endless pit for draining away any positivity and happiness. Whether it is the refusal to take food or the constant whining, it is heart-breaking and unnatural to see these innocent and hapless children in such a dormant state.  As a mother, I have experienced both extremes. Needless to say, I always hope for the former and try to avoid the latter. And I do take very possible measure within my reach to make this happen.

Starting with a diet that is vital for the development of his body and brain, I try to supplement it with health drinks and ayurvedic formulations. With the deteriorating environmental conditions, they are regularly exposed to pollutants and viruses that are becoming increasingly strong. And not to forget the problem of pollen allergies that is very evident in Bangalore. I believe that my child needs that 'extra' bit of care and nutrition to fight and overcome these external enemies. Hence I trust something like Dabur Chyawanprash which draws from the rich and ancient ayurvedic tradition of India and has proven 'immunomodulatory and anti-allergic potential'.

I remember my mother forcing me to take 'Chyawanprash'. As a kid, I hated those white bottles with the red cap and the sketch of a sage etched in red. I think if I looked hard, I would still find a few of those in the storage room. But looking back in time, I do acknowledge that it is very helpful in keeping away/curing minor irritants like a running/itchy nose, sore throat, cough or even sneezing fits (trust me they can be really irritating if they are as bad as mine used to be). Though she would sometimes forget it during the remaining year, my mother always made sure that I took those two spoonfuls of Chyawanprash in the early winter months. 'This is the right time for building immunity', she would exclaim. And I have kept the tradition alive. 'Like mother like daughter'.

[This post is written for Dabur Chyawanprash.]

Kalara Chop (Karela Tikki)

Everytime my MIL comes to Blore, bittergourd or karela becomes an integral part of our meals. As she is a diabetic and bittergourd is the most beneficial vegetable for her, we keep finding/trying out new recipes with it. After we got bored of having it in various avatars like stir-fried, stuffed and mashed, we tried out an odia style chop with it. Yeah, we love our chop and make it with almost everything. Potato, green banana, cauliflower, cabbage, mushroom,prawns, chicken, fish. The list is endless. The North Indians lovingly call them 'tikkis' but I prefer to stick to the old-fashioned chop.

Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 20 mins

Ingredients -

  • 2 medium sized bitter gourd
  • 1 large potato
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1-2 green chilis
  • 1 tsp mustard oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp chopped coriander leaves
  • salt to taste
  • oil for shallow frying
  • 3 tbsp cornflour for dusting
  • lemon juice (optional)

Preparation - Wash and transfer the bittergourd and potato into a cooker along with 1 cup water and salt. Cook for 2-3 whistles.
Keep aside till steam escapes. Open lid and drain off excess water.

Peel the potatoes, transfer to a mixing bowl and mash them. Cut the bittergourd open and remove the seeds if any. Mash it and add to the potatoes.

Chop the onions and green chilis and add to the mixing bowl. Also add 1 tbsp cornflour, 1/2 tsp mustard oil, salt and coriander leaves. Mix well.

Shape into small flattened dics.

Cooking - Heat a tawa. drizzle it with 2 tsp oil. Place the discs on the tawa and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side. (Once you notice an even browning,

remove them from the tawa.)

Drizzle with lemon juice. Serve with white rice.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Panchras Dal (Gujrati recipe)

Another one of Tarla Dalal's recipes, this is a spicy Gujrati dal preparation that is fast becoming a permanent fixture in my kitchen. Apart from being very healthy, it tastes similar to some of the spicier dalma preparations of Odisha (even my husband kept asking from whom I had got the recipe). A must try for folks who love the dalma served at temples, this one is much more spicier (and just a little tangy) than the variety that we usually cook at home. While the recipe calls for the use of onions, one can skip the onions without compromising much on taste.

I have made a few changes in the original recipe to save time and effort. Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 30 mins

Ingredients -
  • 1 cup toor dal
  • 1 cup red pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup potatoes
  • 1 cup raw banana
  • 1/2 cup eggplant
  • 1/2 cup carrots
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp corinader powder
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp oil/ghee
  • salt to taste

For the masala paste

  • 1 /2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 whole Kashmiri chili
  • 1 green chili
  • 1 inch ginger
  • 1/2 tsp tamarind paste
  • 1 medium sized onion
  • 1 tbsp dried coconut milk powder
  • 2 tsp oil

Preparation - Soak the toor dal for 1-2 hours.

Heat 2 tsp oil in a wok. Add the cumin and coriander seeds. When they start to give out a fragrance, add the broken red chili, followed by the chopped onion. Fy till onion starts to turn light brown. Remove from wok to a blender. Add the chopped ginger, green chili and tamarind. Buzz for 30 seconds to 1 minute to get a smooth paste.

Dissolve the cconut milk powder in 2-3 tbsp warm water and keep aside.

Cooking - Wash and cook the toor dal with 2 1/2 cups water, salt and turmeric for 2-3 whistles. Keep aside till steam escapes. Mash the dal with a heavy ladle.

Simultaneously, heat the oil in a wok. Add the cumin seeds . When it starts to splutter, add the chopped veggies along with all the powdered masalas. Fry for 2-3 min on medium heat. Then add 1 1/2 cup water, salt and a pinch of turmeric. Cove with lid and cook for 8-10 mins.

Once the veggies are almost done, pour the cooked dal and the masala paste into the wok along with 1 1/2 - 2 cups of water (adjust consistency as per your taste/preference). Simmer for 5-6 minutes before taking to a boil. Allow to boil for 3 mins or till everything is mixed together. Add the coconut milk and boil for 1 more minute. Remove from flame.

Serve hot with rice/rotis.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Tulsi Tea & Ginger lemon Tea : Reviews

A dreary long afternoon without power. Though cocooned from nature's fury by virtue of its geographic location, the aftermath of Hudhud is being felt in a very different form in the IT city(refer news). While the power shortages have disrupted our set schedules, it has also opened up new avenues of entertainment. No telivision/no laptop equals to more books/going to the park/chatting up with neighbours. On one such afternoon as I was engrossed in a Paulo Coelho, the doorbell rang. As I was expecting a package from Borosil, I ran excitedly to open the door. 'Ah at last', I exclaimed when I saw the courier guy with a package. I signed and took the package in my hands. It felt different.  I took a proper look at the consignment details. That is when I saw the words 'Paper Boat' along with their logo embossed on the package. Had missed it in my excitement. They have launched two new variants of their drinks and had sent it for review. (PS- I loved the tiny note you guys sent with it!!!)

This is the third time I am reviewing their products which are all natural ready-to-serve 'Indian' beverages. Have previously reviewed all the exising flavours and I think these two variants are a nice addition to their repetoire. Both the flavours 'Tulsi Tea' and 'Ginger Lemon Tea' are much loved and widely consumed especially during winters. Touted to be the sure cure for all sore throats, they are essentially hot beverages. But the twist is that these RTS beverages need to be 'served chilled'. So how did they fave on my gusto-meter ??

The samples came in a jute bag (this time it is brown) enclosed within a cardboard box (brownie points for the eco-friendly packaging). There were two samples of each flavour. Though it was mentioned to 'serve chilled', I could hardly wait to try them. So, I tried them at room temperature first. Both turned out to be quite refreshing but tasted somewhat similar ( both have those lemony notes ). The Tulsi variant is a litle too subtly flavoured and maybe they can upp the flavour by a notch or two. I liked the Ginger-Lemon variant among the two. It has that right balance of flavours ( and that ginger smell which I really dig ). It think it is really nice. Reminded me of the CCD iced tea that was a favorite at one time.

[The remaining samples were duly kept in the fridge and tried later. Yes, they do taste better when chilled. Stock them in your fridge for those hot ( and also not-so-hot ) days.]

Yaay's -
1. Low on sugar ( just 6 g/100ml)
2. Traditional Indian flavours
3. Low on calories ( 27.4 Kcal/100 ml for Ginger Lemon and 24 Kcal/100ml for Tulsi )
4. No preservatives
5. No added colors
6. All natural ingredients (as listed on package) - water, sugar, black tea leaves, lemon juice concentrate, ginger, lemongrass, tulsi leaves.
7. Nice taste (when slightly chilled)
8. Priced at Rupees 30/250 ml.

Naay's -

1. I expected the Tulsi version to have a stronger flavour.

Rating - Since Paper Boat Drinks are in a league of their own, it will not be favourable to comapare them with other beverages. However, i would rate it a 4.25/5 based on taste/calorie content/pricing and health perspective.

[ Though product samples sent by the company, my opinion is unbiased and strictly personal.]

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Garnier Saved My Day !!

It is 5 am. A new mother finally gets to hit the bed. But sleep eludes her as she keeps getting up to check on her bundle of joy. "Is he too cold ?? or maybe too warm. It has been two hours since his last feed, won't he be hungry?". Her thoughts wander in every possible direction. Finally the alarm goes off at 7.30 am. She gets off hurriedly to shut it lest it disturb the little one.

As she splashes cold water on her face to get rid of the grogginess, she notices the dark areas that are beginning to develop under her eyes. Her once luminous skin is not longer that radiant. Her rigorous skincare routine has gone haywire after the arrival of the baby. Not that she regrets it. "Thank God for small least I do not have to go to office looking like this...most folks would easily mistake me for an endangered member of the bear family".

The day passes by in blur. Feeding, changing nappies and soothing the little one takes up all her time. A sudden ringing of the mobile disrupts her routine. Her husband informs her that two of his colleagues would be dropping by around 7 p.m.. She checks the time and it is already 6 p.m. which leaves her with less than an hour to get ready to receive the guests.

She runs through her mental checklist. The fridge is stocked with frozen snacks which would be ready to serve in 10 mins. The house looks a bit untidy and will take up another 15 mins. With the baby scheduled for a feeding at 6:45, that leaves her with just about 20 mins for herself. Deciding to tackle the living room first, she gets to work. It turns out that she grossly underestimated the effort. It is 6:30 by the time she is done with arranging the house.

She hurriedly takes a shower and dons a fresh outfit. The baby has begin to stir and needs immediate attention. A feeding session and a lullaby follows. The baby settles down and she puts him in the rocking chair. With the snacks are laid out in the microwaveable dish and the coffee maker kept ready, the food arrangements are taken care of. Turning her thoughts to her makeup and hair, she hurriedly opens the makeup kit which has been gathering dust ever since the baby was born. She sighs at the sight of the neatly arranged primer, foundation, concealer, highlighter and the pressed powder. These things have to wait for another day. Closing the kit, her reaches out for a little pouch. Her vanity is at stake and she cannot afford to look less than presentable.

Un-zipping the pouch, she turns it upside down on the dressing table. A Garnier BB cream, a kajal stick and two lippies tumble out. Though minimalistic, these have become her savior. An impulse buy from an online portal, the Garnier BB cream has worked its way into her hectic routine. While she had initially been skeptical about the lack of a shade repertoire to match every skin tone, she discovered that it matched beautifully with her medium skin tones. It gives that beautiful flawless finish with a dewy shine which stays in place for a good eight hours while the in-built moisturizer ensures that skin stays hydrated. And it has SPF too which abolishes any need for applying a sunscreen. No need for layering multiple products.

She dots her face with a tiny amount and spreads it evenly with light fingers. A second layer ( mixed with a dot of matte foundation) applied right under the eyes takes care of the dark circles. After a swipe of kajal to brighten up those tired eyes and a bit of lippy to add some color to the face, she looks every bit her old self. With those extra minutes to spare, she quickly runs a straightener through her wild hair. She is just putting it back in its stand when the doorbell rings. As she opens the door, the look in her husband's eyes says it all. Garnier BB cream has once again saved the day for her.

[ Note - Garnier BB Cream has been my constant companion ever since the arrival of my baby. Though I have been using it for more than a year, I jumped at the chance to do a blog post about it. Thanks to Indiblogger and Garnier for providing me a free sample and the lovely opportunity.]

Chuin-Saru-Baigana Tarkari (Drumstick-Taro-Eggplant curry)

Drumstick curry is a very popular dish is every odia household. But every lady has a different way of cooking this traditional favorite. The taste varies according to the quantity of masala paste and vegetables used. Some prefer to thoroughly fry the veggies before adding it to boiling water salt and turmeric water while others add the raw veggies itself. While I usually make one with drumsticks-potato-badi and a thick mustard-garlic paste, this time I tried a more watery variation by keeping the quantity of mustard low and adding eggplant and arbi/taro to the curry.

Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 20-25 mins

Ingredients -

  • 4 drumsticks ( cut into 2 inch long pieces)
  • 1 cup eggplant cubes
  • 1/2 cup arbi/saru/taro cubes
  • 1 large potato (cubed)
  • 1 large tomato (finely chopped)
  • 1 dried mango slice (ambula)
  • 1 medium  onion (finely chopped)
  • 6-7 garlic flakes
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 red chili
  • 1 green chili
  • 1 tsp pancha phutana
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp mustard oil
  • salt to taste

Preparation - Grind the mustard, cumin, red chili and half of the garlic flakes into a smooth paste. Dilute the paste with 3 cups water.

Soak the ambula in 1/2 cup hot water.

Cooking - Heat a wok. Carefully drain off the diluted mustard paste into the wok leaving the solids behind. Bring to a boil. Add turmeric and salt along with all the veggies. Cover with a lid and cook till the veggies are soft.

Heat the oil in another wok. Add the panch-phutana, crushed garlic flakes and green chili. As the garlic starts to brown, add the chopped onion.

Fry till the edges start to turn red. Then add the chopped tomato and cover with a lid for 1-2 mins. Open lid and crush the tomatoes with a spatula. Add the cooked veggies along with the residual liquid. Also add the dried mango/ambula along with the water in which it was soaking. Adjust salt.

Bring to boil and let simmer for 4-5 mins. Switch off the flame.

Serve with white rice, dal and some vegetable fry.

Click here for another version (HERE).

Monday, October 13, 2014

Budha Kakudi Khatta

Recently we were invited to a kid's birthday party. My husband and my mother in law also accompanied us to the event. Once the candles were blown out and the b'day song sung enthusiastically by everyone present, the hosts cut up the cake and served it to all. I had to help my little one finish off his piece first. And all the while he insisted on holding the spoon and eating it by himself. As I started to pick up my plate, he showed an interest in devouring my piece too. I just about managed to taste a tiny morsel as he eagerly demolished it. If you are wondering why I am narrating this incident, it is just to show how a mother makes sacrifices, whether small or big, every single day of her life. Happy Mothers Day to all mothers who are reading this. Because every day is special for a mother.

Coming back to the recipe. 'Budha kakharu' or ripened cucumber is one of the ingredients that go into the making of  'Dwitibahana ghanta'. But rarely is it made into a dish by itself. However, as the 'Kartika Somabar' staple 'Oou' is not available in Bangalore, I decided to make a sweet-savoury preparation with the available vegetables. The ripe yellow melons ( which are not exactly same as 'budha kakudi' which we get in Odisha but taste somewhat similar) caught my attention and I decided to give them a try. Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 20-25 mins

Ingredients -

  • 1 Budha kakudi (melon)
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 dry red chillis
  • 1 tsp tamarind paste
  • 3-4 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/3 tsp chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp roasted cumin-chilli powder
  • 1/4 tsp pancha phutana
  • 3 tsp cooking oil
  • freshly grated coconut for garnishing
  • salt to taste

Preparation - Peel the budha kakudi and cut into medium sized cubes.

Grind the mustard and cumin seeds into a smooth paste.

Cooking - Heat the oil in a wok. Add the pancha phutana and broken red chilli. Allow to splutter.

Add the budha kakudi cubes to the wok. Sprinkle some salt and fry for a while till it starts turning a bit mushy. Add the mustard-cumin paste and fry for 1 minute. Add 2 cups of water along with salt, turmeric and chilli powder. Cover with a lid and allow to cook on medium flame for 10 minutes. (Keep checking in between and add more water if required )

Add the sugar and tamarind paste. Simmer for 5-6 mins.

Finally add the grated coconut and roasted cumin-chilli powder. Mix in and remove from the flame.

Serve with arwa bhata (rice) and dalma (dal cooked with veggies).