Diet, You Say!

I miss my friends and the exercise routine. We worked really hard but we had a lot of fun. Reposting this post in honour of my friends.

Our Zumba instructor, Bhavana, has been asking us to go on the GM diet for a few months. We always had excuses – dinner party, special lunches or travelling to places with amazing seafood. Even though I told her I eat in moderation, she thought it would be good to cleanse the system. It was three of us who decided to go on the diet and we decided to diet for 3 days, maybe 4, because we had a lunch on the 5th day and did not want to miss that. So you can see that we all love food! We had fun dieting (again not a word you think of when you think of the D word). Fun, because we dieted together, sharing food and sharing lots of laughs at our misery! So this recipe is dedicated to Bhavana, Uma and Ram. Thank you Bhavana for putting up with us and our moves. We are like Lucy in this video ‘I love Lucy’. https://youtu.be/XYvr6U5xv9w . We really feel for you but are so thankful to you for pushing us to exercise and eat healthy. I cannot believe I ate fruits while everyone else was eating pooris!

Diet conjures images of insipid food, boiled, tasteless, boring. But for me it was a challenge. How do I make food interesting, tasty, scrumptious even. The path to good food is flavour. I hardly used oil in this but packed it with flavour!

The first day was just fruits, except for bananas. My friend and I brought our cut fruits and ate it for snack and lunch. I made some fresh watermelon juice for the evening. Btw, if you prepare to eat fruits the whole day, be prepared to visit the restroom many times.

Day 2, was only vegetables, no potatoes except for breakfast. Food can never be boring for me. I went to the vegetable market and picked up different vegetables. Stir fry, it was. Cauliflower rice seems to be the craze in the USA, so I decided to try it out. Day 3, fruits and vegetables, no bananas and potatoes, so soup it was. The truth is I feel good. My stomach has gone down a bit, the weighing scale is being good to me. But of course I will start eating carbs and sweets again, but surely will add more fruit in my diet. Eat anything you want but in moderation is my motto!

Cauliflower Rice

  • 1/2 head of cauliflower, cut into flowerlets, washed and drainer
  • 2 tbsp onion, chopped (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp oil
  • salt to taste

Directions

  • Pulse cauliflower in a food processor. It should be powdery, not a paste
  • In a pan, heat oil. Add onions and cauliflower and saute for a few minutes. Sprinkle some water, add salt and fry till cooked. It should not be overcooked.
  • Serve instead of rice

Stir Fried Veggies

Pack it with flavours and you will not miss the oil, the soy sauce and the chilli sauce you might add otherwise. There is added sugar in almost everything processed, so read the labels.

  • 2 cups of 3-6 veggies of your choice (carrot, beans, mushroom, capsicum, broccoli, baby corn), cleaned and cup into pieces
  • 1 green chilli, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp oil (when on a diet; otherwise increase it if you want)
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander, 2 tbsp fresh chopped basil ( I had both, so added both. you can add just one)
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Directions

  • Heat oil in a wok.
  • Add onions and fry for a minute. Add chillies, garlic and ginger. Add vegetables according to their cooking time. Add the broccoli and capsicum last as you do not want them to overcook and get mushy. Add salt
  • Fry till vegetables are cooked, not overcooked.
  • Sprinkle and mix the herbs.
  • Add lemon juice and mix. Taste for seasoning.
  • Serve with cauliflower rice

Throw It Together Vegetable Soup

How do I make soup with no readymade stock, my friend asked! Pack it with flavour, you do not need Maggi. Throw in vegetables you have, maybe some leftovers (you get my drift) and make a hearty soup. I always make a batch for atleast two meals. Since it had no stock, I made a paste of grilled tomatoes and eggplants to give it heartiness and depth. Grilling tomatoes brings out a sweetness

  • 1 eggplant, grilled on stove and skin removed
  • 3-4 tomatoes
  • 6-8 cloves of garlic
  • 1-2 green chillies
  • veggies of your choice (I used the same as above).
  • Also had some grilled pumpkin which i threw in (optional)
  • 2-3 tbsp chopped onion
  • 2 tbsp leftover cauliflower rice (optional)
  • salt to taste
  • 4-5 cups water
  • 3-4 tbsp chopped coriander
  • 2 tsp lemon juice

Directions

  • Grill tomatoes and 3-4 cloves of garlic in the oven. Remove skin of tomatoes (Heat oven to 200ºC/400ºF, grill for 25-30 minutes)
  • Grill eggplant, remove skin.
  • Grind together grilled tomato, garlic and eggplant to a paste.
  • Keep aside. (Add some olive oil, sumac or chilli poser and a dash of lemon juice and you can serve it as a dip)
  • In a pot add onions, rest of the garlic, chillies and vegetables that take longer to cook. Save broccoli, capsicum for the last.
  • Add 3-4 tbsp of the tomato – eggplant paste
  • Add water and salt and let it cook on a low flame for 30 minutes
  • Add rest of vegetables and cook for a few minutes
  • Add chopped coriander and lemon juice
  • Serve hot

Vendakkai Pachadi – Okra in a Spicy Tangy Coconut Gravy Why is Okra Slimy and What can you do?- Science in the Kitchen

Reposting this from October 2018.

After a long time, I decided to make Pachadi as a side dish for rice and Molagootal. I looked up a few of my recipe books including Samaythu Par and could not find the recipe. I then looked online and could find variations but not what I wanted. So I called my parents to get the recipe. This I assume is the Palakkad version of the dish.

Okra is also called Lady’s finger in some parts.

You could prepare the same dish with eggplant or white pumpkin too.

Why is okra slimy? Here is some science behind it!

I came across an article on NPR that talked about okra and then visited the blog, botanist in the kitchen. Here is the explanation as to why okras are slimy. Okra is slimy because of a water-soluble mucilage. It is an adaptation to retain moisture and store water in hot ares where they grow. Though there is no information as to why exactly it is slimy, there is enough information as to how to remove the slime while cooking.

In India, our mothers and grandmothers have been using acid to remove the slime. Tamarind is used in the south, but sometimes yogurt or lemon juice is added, depending on the recipe. The viscosity (the measure of a fluid’s resistance to flow, in this case, the thick, sticky, semifluid consistency) reduces at high heat around 90ºC. Then even when it is cooled, the mucilage does not return. Another popular way in India and Africa is to add an acid. Viscosity is at its peak at a neutral or alkaline pH, by adding an acid the mucilage becomes acidic and the viscosity reduces.

Ingredients:

300 grams okra/ ladies finger

1/2 cup white pumpkin or madras cucumber (optional)

tamarind paste 1 1/2 tsp (or fresh tamarind 1 inch diameter piece soaked in warm water and pulp removed)

1/4 tsp turmeric powder

salt to taste

1/4 tsp jaggery/ brown sugar (optional)

To grind to a paste:

1 tsp mustard seeds

1-2 green chillies

1/2 cup coconut

To temper

1 tsp oil

1/2 tsp mustard

1/2 tsp urad dal

a pinch of asafoetida

a couple of curry leaves

Directions:

Wash and pat dry the okra. Cut into small pieces.

In a pan, add the vegetables, tamarind paste, a cup of water, salt and turmeric powder. Let the vegetables cook.

Grind the coconut, chilli, and mustard to a paste.

When the vegetables are cooked, add the paste and let it cook for 10 minutes on a slow flame. Add brown sugar if you feel it is too sour. It has to have the right balance of sourness from the tamarind and the spiciness from the chilli

Heat oil to temper. Add urad dal, mustard, asafoetida, and curry leaves. When mustard splutters, add it to the gravy and mix.

Serve as a side dish with rice and molagootal (or any gravy without tamarind).

Source:

Roasted Rainbow Carrots

One day, while I was grocery shopping, I saw these ‘rainbow’ carrots. They were carrots of different color. It piqued my interest and I bought a bag. The lighter colored one was not as sweet and had a mild taste of radish. You could make this with regular carrots too. It is really easy to make.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound (1/2 kg) carrots
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp mixed herbs

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 425F (220C)
  • Peel carrots
  • Cut into half lengthwise approximately the same size
  • Toss carrots with oil and spices
  • Spread on a pan in a single layer
  • Roast for 20-30 minutes. Stir every 10 minutes
  • Serve hot as a side

Sweet Potato Toast

One day, while I was grocery shopping, I saw a box of sweet potato slices in the frozen section. I decided to try it at home. It is easy to make, healthy and for those who are on a low carb keto diet, whole 30, have gluten or dairy allergy or just want to eat less carbs, this is great. I had just made sundried tomato pesto and used that as a spread. I also added avocado on that and made my version of avocado toast, which is the ‘in’ thing to eat. My son commented that I was eating like the millenials. I had some baingan bharta which I used as a spread too. Top it whatever catches your fancy.

Ingredients

  • 1 Sweet potato
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 375ºF (190ºC)
  • Slice sweet potato , 1/4 inch thick
  • Place on a pan in one layer
  • Drizzle with olive oil
  • Bake for 15 to 20 mins
  • If you do not have an oven- parboil teh sweet potato, slice and pan fry with a little oil.
  • Top with whatever you want and have it as breakfast, snack or as dinner.

Cauliflower Steak

This is a really simple dish that looks like you spent a lot of time. Makes a great side or a main. I served it with tomato chutney, sun dried tomato pesto and yogurt sprinkled with some spices.

I roasted this on the oven but you can roast it on a grill or a pan.

Ingredients

  • 2 big cauliflowers
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • a mixture of 1 tsp salt, 2 tsp cumin powder, 1/2 tsp chilli powder, 1/2 tsp pepper

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 425ºF (220ºC)
  • Cut cauliflower in half lengthwise
  • Cut 1 inch thick slices. The outer slices will fall apart. You could save them for another dish or grill them too.
  • Drizzle olive oil
  • Sprinkle the seasoning mixture on both sides and place on pan.
  • Bake 15 minutes each side
  • Serve as a side or a main dish

Roasted Stuffed Zucchini

This is an easy dish to make and a low carb, keto friendly dish.

Ingredients

  • 2 small zucchinis, sliced in half lengthwise
  • 1 8oz (200 g) packet mushrooms, chopped fine
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp italian seasoning
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 2 tbsp bread crumbs + 1 tbsp chopped nuts (optional) + 1 tbsp parmesan cheese( optional)

Directions

  • Heat oven to 375ºF (190ºC)
  • Slice zucchini in half, lengthwise and scoop out the middle.
  • Wipe dry, sprinkle a little salt and pepper on it.
  • Place on oiled baking pan
  • In a pan heat oil. Add onions and garlic and stir fry till golden brown
  • Chop the scooped out zucchini and add to pan with mushrooms.
  • Stir fry till cooked and dry. Add spices.
  • Mix ingredients for bread crumbs
  • Spoon in the mushroom mixture into the scooped zucchini
  • Sprinkle with bread crumbs and bake for 20 minutes.
  • If bread crumbs start to brown, cover with aluminium foil to avoid burning.
  • Serve with tomato sauce on the side