Friday, April 20, 2012

Tangy Summer Coolers - Indian & Mexican

Now that summer is its full fury and cola and juice companies are making merry, its time that we make old fashioned summer coolers with an ingredient that is regularly available in majority of Indian homes : Tamarind. Tamarind is used in Ayurveda to aid digestion and is a coolant.Tamarind pulp is useful in treating fevers and even in curing sore throats. Remember the South Indian Rasam, is perfect while having fever.The list continues, but lets get back to today's post...

Jal Jeera :
I was under the belief that majorly South Indians used tamarind as a regular ingredient in their chuneys,gravies, rices etc, till I came across Jal Jeera. Ofcourse there are other ways to make jal jeera or minty cuminy cooler, but the one which I made using Nita Mehta's Punjabi cooking uses tamarind. I suppose if you do not have tamarind you can go for additional lemon juice, but traditionally it was a tamarind cumin cooler. I am posting the original recipe with the correct estimates for ingredients, but feel free to change as per your taste.


Tamarind: 1 lemon size ball or around 1.5 tbsp of syrup
Lemon juice: 3-4 tsp 
Ginger: 1" piece
Mint: handful of fresh leaves: 3-4 tbsp around
Black Salt: 1/2 tsp 
Roasted and Powdered Cumin: 1 tsp
Salt: to taste
Sugar: 1 tbsp

Soak tamarind in 1 cup hot water for about 30 minutes. Extract the pulp and strain. If using tamarind syrup/ concentrate then just mix it with hot water.

Grind ginger and mint together with little water to a smooth paste and add to the tamarind water.Add around 2 -3 more cups of water to this along with the remaining ingredients and mix well.

Chill in the fridge and serve garnished with more mint leaves or boondis (light chickpea flour balls).

While making check the seasonings and salt as per taste and adjust. Cumin and black salt are the formost in asserting their flavour. Mint refreshes, and sugar slightly contrasts, but tangy tamarind and sharp tastes of cumin and black salt tickles your tongue and increases your appetite.

Agua de Tamarindo:
Again the surprise element here was that tamarind is widely used in parts of the world like Kenya, Trinidad and Tobago and even Mexico. Come summer and the fruit pulp is used to make drinks called agua frescas. But if our jal jeera was sweet and sour and spicy then this one made with tamarind is slightly sweeter. I have adapted my recipe from the umpteen sites google has thrown open and majorly this post which looks very mouthwatering.

Tamarind: 1 lemon sized ball or 1.5 tbsp of concentrate/syrup
Brown Sugar/ Jaggery/ Mexican Piloncillo: 2tbsp /-

Add tamarind and sugar/piloncillo to about 2 cups of water and boil together for  few minutes till the sugr dissolves. Remove from heat and let it site for atleast 30 minutes.The more the merrier.

Extract the pulp by pressing the soft tamarind in water with your clean hands. Check for sweetness and add more sugar if needed. Strain and add more water if needed to reduce the intensity of tamarind.

Serve chilled adding ice cubes.

A delectable drink that cools you down after a nice workout or cooking in the hot kitchen.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Spinach & Cottage Cheese Rice - Palak Paneer Rice

What to do when you are too lazy to cook an elaborate dinner ,but want ot make use of spinach (palak) and few cubes or pieces of cottage cheese (paneer) waiting to be used up. Simple, you end up making this rice. This is just an improvisation on palak paneer gravy that you must have seen in many blogs except here :). There are dozen ways of making this rice as well ,but this is just my version with few changes here and there to suit my palate.

The estimates are actually guesstimates. I just cooked with whatever I had in my hand and since it was tasty, I am blogging it. But feel free to improvise on it.

Basmati Rice: 1 cup atleast

Vegetable Oil: 2 tbsp

Cumin seeds: 1/4 tsp
Onion: 1 finely chopped
Ginger Garlic Paste : almost 1tsp (optional)
Green Chillies: 1 big slit lengthwise (can use chilli paste)
Spinach : 1 medium bunch cleaned and chopped (almost 1.5 cup chopped - the more the merrier)
Paneer /Indian Cottage Cheese : cubed 1 cup +/-

Turmeric Powder: 1/4 tsp
Chilli Powder: 1/ 2 tsp
Coriander Powder: 1/4 tsp
Garam Masala/ Kitchen King Masala Powder: 1/2 tsp +/-
Kasuri Methi /Dried Fenugreek Leaf Powder: 1/4-1/2 tsp

Cook basmathi rice in just enough water till done. The rice grain should be separate and the rice should not be overcooked.Preferably spread the rice in a big plate and let it cool a bit.You can separate the grains with a fork if needed.

In a deep pan, heat oil on medium heat. Add jeera/cumin seeds and let it sizzle. Add chopped onion, ginger garlic paste, slit green chillies and little salt. Saute till the onions become transparent and the raw smell on  the ingredients goes. The onions may leave water during this process. 

Add the cheese cubes to this and stirfry for a few minutes. Add in the chopped spinach and little more salt and let it cook for a few minutes. The spinach might give out water during cooking. Add the spice powders one after the other to the hot mixture and cook cover on low heat for a few minutes till all the flavours mingle and the ingredients get cooked. 

Remove from heat and add cooked and cooled rice to this and mix well. Rice will absorb whatever liquid is there in the spinach mix. If  too much liquid is there a few minutes after mixing then heat through for 1 or 2 minutes till correct consistency is reached. Adjust salt and served with raita optionally garnished.

Asimple yet hearty rice. Easy to make and filling as well. 

Here I have used kasuri methi to add just a little sourness. Dried mango powder can also be used. Normally palak paneer will be having tomato chopped or puree. But I have omitted it. Why ?

Recently I came to know that the combo of spinach and tomato might cause kidney stones. The both have oxalates and kidney stone is usually calcuim oxalate. So its better to reduce the combo in cooking, especially in this rice or the gravy version as you are using paneer which is rich in calcuim. Go for any other souring agent or even avoid it completely to suit your taste and also health. 

Meanwhile grab a bowl and enjoy ....

Monday, April 16, 2012

Britannia 50-50 Snackuits - Very Very Tasty Tasty

Have you ever imagined the day to day life of a homemaker? Early morning making breakfast,getting kids ready for school and the cooking lunch/snacks for kids/husband tension, supervising the maids, rushing to the gym (optional), rushing back to take care of the kids/maid/cooking/telephone calls etc. This is the daily scenario in any household. It might seem boring to you but for her its the LIFE.

Have you ever thought how the homemaker gets the energy to carry on these tasks. We know how late they eat a barely proper meal (call it leftovers) and how fast. And what about snacking? Thats supposed to be totally offlimits! Because you will put on weight!But what if you want to snack healthily ?

Britannia is a leading food company that has recently launched 'Snackuits'  as a part of its ever growing 50-50 brand. The 50-50 brand is mostly aimed at homemakers who are always in a rush to meet some deadline or the other. The brand respects the homemaker and celebrates the self confident,unconventional and the whackier side of her.And its shows in the taste of snackuits. The savoury crackers come in 3 irresistible flavours - Italiano Pizza, Swiss Cheese &Chilli and Chinese Hot & Sweet.

Snackuits are savoury crackers/biscuits that go perfect with tea and the usual gossip associated with homemakers. They are baked, and has cut back on cholestrol,MSG,transfat and oil. They make sure your  life is happy and healthy.Often stress decides our choice of snacking and this goes for all types/categories of people and not just housewives.So its my personal opinion that snackuits are perfect for all age groups.

People have this silly belief that homemakers do nothing but snack and gossip!. But now if snackuits are there then I too would love to gossip especially if its Italiano pizza. 

The moment you open the foil pack, a wonderful herbed aroma transports to a 'wait until tables are free' pizzeria, with its comforting atmosphere. You feels too tempted to stop at one snackuit.This is my daughter's and mine personal favourite. 

Next comes the Swiss cheese and chilli- The aroma of cheese and the tingling chilly sensations entices you and bring out the unconventional side of you. The comforting cheese married off to spicy chilly is unconventional but comforting to the heat loving Indian palate be it a homemaker or a rebellious teen.

The Chinese Hot and Sweet bring out the naughty yet nice side of you with its balanced spicy and sweet taste. Just like how a homemaker balances all her chores !

How different is it from Britannia's NutriChoice brand that launched snexy Thins and Roasty?Well, the primary difference is the category of consumers it is aimed at. Both are baked products for snacking and more variety for consumers more the better.We can also say the success of thins and roasty speeded up the launch of snackuits especially in the South. 

The snackuits are priced at Rs.10/- for a 30 gm easy-to-carry pouch, while a bigger 50gm packs are prized Rs. 20 each. So do munch on..

BTW don't forget to watch the commercials of Snackuits on TV or YouTube. They bring a smile on your lips and make life  Snack Happy!

Truly Naya Concept Hai ji.....

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Caramel Cookies

There are times when I feel like baking cookies more and more. But I have bookmarked lots of them and going through will definitely take a day. Sometimes you just decide on some recipe and it turns out to be excellent and healthy as well. These are simple brown sugar cookies -caramel in taste,hence the name I suppose - I have adapted from WeightWatchers site and they turned out great. 


Unsalted Butter: 1/2 cup or 1 stick or 8 tbsp  soft
Brown Sugar: packed 1 cup
Vanilla : 1 tsp

Egg Or Egg Replacer Egg: 1  (1. 5 packed tsp of Ener G whipped with 2 tbsp of water )

All Purpose Flour: 1 cup
Whole Wheat Flour: 3/4 cup
Salt: 1/4 tsp
Baking Soda: 1/2 tsp

Cream together butter,sugar, vanilla and egg. Add the rest of the dry items and mix thoroughly to get a moist sticky mass of dough. Scrap the dough within two plastic sheets and shape into a log. 

Refrigerate the dough atleast for 20 minutes or overnight. You can even freeze it for longer duration if not using immediately. 

Preheat the oven into 400F/200C. Slice the dough log into discs and arrange them on ungreased baking sheets atleast 1.5 inches apart. Bake for about 8-10 minutes until they start browning on the edges.Cool in the sheet for about a minute after which turn them over to the wire rack to cool completely.

I went for lined baking sheets and also pulled out after 7 minutes. The cookies were soft in the centre. So I let them cool in the baking sheet itself which also crisped them a bit. The above quantity yields about 60 cookies. I had baked just half of the dough which yield about 30 cookies. Maybe it depends a bit on how thick you slice them. 

A simple fuss free snack and very addictive.I also used demerara sugar which can be seen on the surface on the cookie.:)

Thanks for visiting my Blog

/*TYNT script starts here */ /*TYNT ends */