Category Archives: Health

Healthy and Tasty Khandavi

Its an amazing dish. Super easy to make and healthy too. Its almost no oil except for the small amount used for the ‘tadka’, which you can omit if you wish. But the tadka is like the feather in the cap so I would go for it, using very small quantity of vegetable oil or substitute it with a good quality olive pomace oil. Khandavi is an Indian Gujarati dish made with besan (chick pea flour) and curd. Both of these are very healthy ingredients. The best thing I like about it is that it can be made ahead for any small get together with a couple of friends and is best enjoyed at room temperature (Store in fridge if you intend to use it next day). Further it can serve as an anytime snack or food. Hey , it should be an ideal snack for the festival of ‘Holi’! O.K. so enough of talking for now. I’m sure you’re getting a wee bit impatient. Here goes the recipe:

Ingredients for Khandavi:
1 cup besan
1 cup curd
2 cups water
1 level tsp salt
1/4 level tsp turmeric
1 pinch asafoetida (hing) which is optional
Paste of 1/2 inch piece ginger and one large green chilli

Ingredients for tempering (tadka) and garnish:
1 tbsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds (rai)
10- 12 curry leaves
chopped coriander leaves
1 to 2 tbsp fresh grated coconut or paneer (optional)

Method:
Mix together all the ingredients for the khandvi into a smooth paste. There should be no lumps. Pour this mixture into a heavy bottom sauce pan or wok and cook stirring continuously on low to medium heat till the mixture thickens but is still spreadable. This should take about 10 to 12 minutes. Taste a little to check that the rawness of the besan is not there. Take about 2 ladle fulls of the batter and spread evenly into a thin layer (approximately 4 mm thick) onto the back of a large steel tray, or baking tray or even kitchen counter. You may need several plates depending on their size. Let cool for 5 to 6 minutes. Meanwhile prepare tempering by spluttering the mustard seeds in the hot oil. Add the roughly chopped curry leaves and switch off the gas. Now using knife cut the khandavi layer into equal sized strips (about 1and 1/2 inch width) and loosen the edge with knife. Roll starting from one end and arrange into serving dish. Garnish with the tadka and grated coconut or paneer (cottage cheese). I like to add a dash of red chilly powder too. Enjoy the healthy almost no oil and gluten free Khandvi.

Note: 1. In first attempt, usually the layers turn out a bit thick.
2. If curd is not sour,add 1 tbsp lemon juice, for better flavour.

Source: Healthy and Tasty Khandavi

Awesome Chef- Dream Meals at Your Dinner Table

Have you ever dreamed of being an awesome chef? Desired to be able to rustle up perfect meals that are fresh and awesome, straight from your kitchen to the dining table? How one yearns to earn that well deserved praise from spouse, children, relatives and friends!

Well, the time has now come to help you fulfill that long cherished wish, and that too with minimum fuss! You can be an ‘awesome chef’ with the launch of a new brand called ‘Awesome chef‘ by Awesome Cuisine Pvt. Ltd. The “Ready-to-cook Meal Kit”  food delivery service, was launched by the company in Chennai recently in February, 2016. Since this launch there has been no looking back. My friends in Chennai have been singing praises of this service and sharing pictures of their awesome home cooked dishes like Kung pao potatoes and Spirelli in mushroom sauce! So delicious and mouth watering, you would wish to cook these and more everyday. With the ready to cook meal kit this is possible.

Kung Pao Potatoes
Kung Pao Potatoes

According to the Co-Founder & Head of Operations of Awesome Cuisine (also winner of the 2015 “Best Chennai Blog” award), over the past few years, there has been an increase in home-cooks, thanks to amazing programs like MasterChef or shows featuring famous chefs like Chef Venkatesh Bhat or Chef Damu. The “Art of Cooking” these days, has surpassed the gender divide and we see amazing chefs in husbands, dads and kids. Living in a hectic world there is either less time to shop or a challenge to source the right ingredients. Awesome Chef fills this need by providing all the requisite ingredients along with the set of instructions to cook the dishes one sees on their site.

The Chief Culinary Officer explains that they are thrilled to be able to help people avoid waiting in queues, offering the best ingredients with no harmful chemicals and giving families more precious time with each other. All Awesome Chef “ready-to-cook” kits are packed with the freshest and finest pre-measured ingredients that can serve 2 to 3 people.

These efforts are in deed laudable. Safe, pure, hygienically cooked home food, that’s chef inspired with the exact recipe and really so tasty that it is nonpareil. To top it all, commitment to excellent customer care is the feather in the cap. You can experience Awesome Chef at https://www.AwesomeChef.in and give your taste buds a real treat! This is such a novel idea that it can revolutionize  the way the world cooks. We all look forward to having Awesome Chef dream meals on our dinner table everyday!

 

 

Bechara Dustbin Kya Kare?

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How often we blame the government or the administration for not providing enough dustbins for maintaining cleanliness in parks and other public places. But what about the citizens’ responsibility? Why do some careless people throw debris ‘around’ the dustbin rather than into it? Are they afraid that their hand will catch some queer sort of infection if it goes too close to the bin?
It’s all a vicious circle. The scattered dirt will attract flies and mosquitoes and stray dogs- which undoubtedly will result in people catching various diseases like malaria, dengue, now the threat of Zika virus! It also explains to some extent the increase in the number of incidents of dog bites in many regions . So much is being said about the dream of a clean India (swachh Bharat) everyday. Isn’t it time people wake up to their own social responsibilities? What say ?

Aging (Tanka)

Another year draws to a close, with the beautiful promise of new beginnings and also the reminder of having added one more year to our lives. We should consider ourselves really blessed and lucky to be able to continue to enjoy all that life has to offer. Aging should be accepted gracefully, as at all stages of life there is always something meaningful to look forward to. I thoroughly believe in staying young at heart! There are some days though, when an aching shoulder in the wee hours of the morning ( Lol) may inspire you to pen a ‘Tanka’ poem as I did below:

Aching bones and joints
Threaten to trouble with age
Skin begins to sag
With streaks of silver in hair
Can I trap age in a cage?

 

 

Walking Barefoot On The Dewy Grass

Walking barefoot on dewy grass
Walking barefoot on dewy grass

Hey it’s time for festivities! The festive season has arrived- Halloween just went by and now its time to look forward to Diwali, Gurpurab, Christmas and New Year’s Eve. One just has to strike the right balance in terms of eating, partying and exercising in order to stay healthy. All the hectic preparations can at times be immensely exhausting!

One way to keep a balanced head on your shoulders and keep the health quotient up is walking barefoot on the dewy green grass every morning. It will calm your mind, soothe the nerves and have a cooling effect on your body. It is also believed to have a good effect on the eyesight. Walking barefoot also helps to strengthen the ankles and will help you to achieve beautiful toned legs. Undoubtedly you will be burning some calories too (So important in this festive season!). This technique of walking barefoot on grass or even sand is called ‘Earthing’ or ‘Grounding’.

The scientific theory behind the health benefits seen from this simple practice is that your body absorbs negative electrons from the Earth through the soles of your feet.

The Earth is negatively charged, so when you ground, you’re connecting your body to a negatively charged supply of energy. And since the Earth has a greater negative charge than your body, you end up absorbing electrons from it. The grounding effect is, in my understanding, one of the most potent antioxidants we know of and may have an anti-inflammatory effect on your body. As written in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine:4

“It is well established, though not widely known, that the surface of the earth possesses a limitless and continuously renewed supply of free or mobile electrons as a consequence of a global atmospheric electron circuit. Wearing shoes with insulating soles and/or sleeping in beds that are isolated from the electrical ground plane of the earth have disconnected most people from the earth’s electrical rhythms and free electrons.

… A previous study demonstrated that connecting the human body to the earth during sleep (earthing) normalizes the daily cortisol rhythm and improves sleep. A variety of other benefits were reported, including reductions in pain and inflammation. Subsequent studies have confirmed these earlier findings and documented virtually immediate physiologic and clinical effects of grounding or earthing the body.”

So ladies and gentlemen, tip toe on the balmy, dewy greens and topple the worldly worries away!

P.S: One word of caution though. Limit this exercise to a few minutes only in very cold weather or you risk a runny nose!  Further, it is advisable to  stuff some tissues in your pocket to wipe your feet clean after the exercise , before slipping on the shoes again.

Inner peace and Joy!!

What is the best possible gift you can give to yourself? Exploring the thought through the poetic form – Acrostic!

Adapt the thoughts,
Balance the mind.
Control the emotions,
Ditch the fries.
Exercise your body,
Free your soul.
Gift yourself – the gifts of ;
Health,
Inner peace,
Joy!

 

Comforting Fig and Corn Salad with Basil

What could be a better start to the evening than a comforting and wholesome fig and corn salad garnished with fresh basil leaves. My sister has a farm close to chandigarh and I had to visit her today for some work. She insisted that I pick some figs to take back home. I really must thank her, because the figs were beautifully ripe, succulent and juicy, and immensely inviting in their deep purple colour. Along with these I also plucked some fresh basil leaves and the idea to make a tasty salad had already popped in my head. The result was just as I expected- worthy of sharing the recipe! God bless my sister.

The dictionary defines a salad as something that is served cold. But over a period of time the concept of a salad seems to have evolved and we can have salads that can be devoured warm as well as cold. This particular salad tastes great when it is warm! Besides being tasty and super quick to make its very healthy and packed with nutrition. Its a delicious salad to perk up your summer evening. So, here goes the recipe!

Warm Fig and Corn Salad with Basil  (Serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 1 large onion chopped into small pieces
  • 3 or 4 cloves of garlic chopped
  •  4 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 and 1/2 cup of juicy corn kernels
  • 1 large carrot peeled and cut into small pieces
  • 5 figs, halved or quartered ( or more if you like)
  • About ten to fifteen basil leaves
  • Fresh coriander leaves
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 1/4 tsp red chilli powder
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • Balsamic vinegar

Method:

Heat the olive oil in a pan, but don’t let it overheat. add the garlic

Comforting fig and corn salad with basil
Comforting fig and corn salad with basil

and saute for half a minute. Now add the chopped onion and continue to stir fry till they become translucent and just begin to caramelize. Add carrots and corn kernels (The corn kernels can be pre- cooked in a microwave with 2 tsp water on high for about 1 minute). Stir fry  for about 1 minute more. Transfer the veggies  to the serving plate. Now place the halved figs flat side down in the same pan. Add a few more drops of olive oil. cook for 1 minute and turn the sides and cook for 30 seconds more. Transfer to serving plate. Drizzle some honey over the figs. Garnish with fresh basil and balsamic  vinegar. Enjoy!

Moist Carrot Cake

It is winter time in the northern hemisphere,the time when one often craves for comfort food.With an abundance of wonderful fresh fruits and vegetables available at this time of the year, why not cook up something that is tasty, flavorful as well as healthy? A carrot cake? A carrot cake with a twist– rich moist and upside down!

Ingredients:

1 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

3 eggs

1 cup sugar ( take about 2 tbsp lesser)

1/4 cup sugar for topping

2 tbsp butter for topping

3 or 4 carrots

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

pinch of salt

3/4 cup refined oil or butter

1/4 tsp cinnamon powder

A handful of mixed dry fruits like almonds, walnuts and raisins

Method:

Peel 2 of the carrots and cut into medium thickness round slices. In a saucepan heat the 1/4 cup sugar along with 2 tbsp butter and 1 tsp water till it melts and is bubbling. Do not stir. Pour into baking pan and arrange the carrot pieces so as to cover the whole base of the pan.Grease and flour the sides of the pan and keep aside.Sieve together all the dry ingredients except the dry fruits. Peel and grate the other two carrots. Meanwhile beat the sugar and the butter/refined oil till fluffy. Add the eggs one by one as you continue beating. Now add the flour mixture in small batches and continue to beat. You can add some milk between each addition of flour if the mixture becomes too thick. Finally fold in the grated carrots and dry fruits. Beat a little bit more till combined.Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake immediately in preheated oven at 180 degree Celsius for about 45 minutes or till done. Let the cake cool in the pan for a while, but not too cool. When still slightly warm, run a knife along the edges of the pan and carefully invert onto a plate. Fingers crossed – your beautiful ,succulent , colourful carrot cake is ready to serve! It makes an excellent tea time accompaniment and can also be used as a dessert along with some ice-cream

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Use of whole wheat flour along with some all purpose flour makes the cake healthier. To enhance the health quotient , the white sugar can be replaced with brown sugar.

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A Walk through Rose Garden, Chandigarh

The mere mention of the Rose Garden fills the air with romance!.Undoubtedly its like paradise for a leisurely walk as a tourist or a brisk walk or jog in order to keep fit.

As one enters the garden, walking through the canopy of orange showers, along with the tall and stately silver oak treesIMG_1219 lining the path, you are greeted with thousands of roses of different hues bobbing their pretty heads in the breeze. You breathe deeply – mesmerized by their sheer beauty. The Dr. Zakir Hussain Rose Garden in Sector 16 of Chandigarh was established in 1967 under (late) Dr. M.S. Randhawa, Chandigarh’s first Chief Commissioner. It is the largest Rose Garden in Asia spread over an area of about 4000 acres and has around 825 varieties of roses and more than 32,500 plants.

Continuing with our walk along the periphery of the garden, we cross several bottle brush trees and walk along side the majestic eucalyptus trees. Walk further and you come across a cluster of Bael trees laden with fruit around the time of  ‘Shivratri’. Walk a few steps more and you can see trees like Fiddle wood (a tree with fragrant flowers and useful for making sound boards of musical instruments) and Kachnar (ever tried making ‘raita’ from Kachnar buds ?) Several other trees like Amaltas, Gulmohar, Burr, simbal, Devil’s trees, Koelreuteria (golden rain tree) and Pride of India dot the garden either individually or in small clusters. As you complete your round, you meander through rows of neatly planted roses with fancy names such as President Giri, Queen Elizabeth, Iceberg, Pink Perfect etc. Kiss of Fire is a vibrant yellow rose with a fusion of blushing pink and Arabian Nights; a red rose that makes me sing from John Boyle O’Reilly’s poem, ‘A white Rose’,

“The red rose whispers of passion,IMG_1222

And the white rose breathes of love;

O, the red rose is a falcon

And the white rose is a dove”

The Rose Garden is home for several birds too like parrots and Great Indian Hornbill. It is fun to chase a little squirrel nibbling away at a seed and watch it vanish into its abode in the great Jamun tree. The coloured water fountains add to the joyous mood of the place. The garden is very well maintained, thanks to the annual feature of the Rose Festival in February. The lawns are perfectly manicured and there is sufficient lighting for walkers to feel safe during their evening walk. There are three solar arrays to meet some of the electricity requirements. There is also an open air stage to host quizzes during the festival. The garden also boasts of well–maintained toilets and a play area for children.

One word of advice, dress properly as it’s a busy place and you may meet many acquaintances (sometimes four times in two rounds, if walking in opposite directions) along with the usual tourists!

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All pictures are by Anil Nanda and Ritu Nanda

Tips for Sparkling Eyes

The gift of eyesight is one of the biggest blessings that the creator has bestowed upon most living creatures.Without eyes the whole world is just like one dark and deep void.You may be able to touch and feel an object ,but would not be able to appreciate its beauty. A flower would yes, feel like a flower to touch but it would be just one colour without eyesight – black.

Eyes are a storehouse of myriad expressions: loving eyes, mischievous eyes,smouldering eyes,pensive eyes,piercing eyes, round astonished eyes,crinkling  with laughter eyes and pensive eyes with a deep far-away look in them.They add to the beauty of a face and many a poet have used expressions such as almond eyes, doe eyes or getting lost in the depths of  deep blue eyes of a lovely damsel.

What about dark circles under the eyes? Nah! But its true, if you don’t take care of your eyes (particularly after long hours of blogging, staring continuously at the computer screen), this is what you get.I was in for a shock recently when I saw my latest picture. Dark circles! So I resolved to take care of my eyes and restored them back to their sparkling beauty.This is the beauty and care routine that I followed:

  1. Go for regular eye checks: Visit the ophthalmologist on a regular basis, or at least whenever you feel an eye strain in reading or watching T.V.
  2. Get adequate sleep: Festivities and guests in the last month had kept me occupied on account of which I probably did not get enough sleep, causing fatigued eyes. Now I have resolved to get my quota of  7 hours of sleep.
  3. Resist looking into your mobile phone every minute there is a notification: I have said that before in my earlier posts and say that again. Don’t be tempted to peep into your mobile every now and then ;it causes tremendous eye strain particularly if you are careless enough to ignore your reading glasses if you require them.
  4. Exercise your eyes: Rotate your eyeballs to the extreme left first and then to the extreme right. Now move the eyeballs to up to the farthest point you can see and then downwards.Do this 5 times.Blink your eyes 5 times. Now rub your palms together and cup your eyes. you will immediately feel relaxed.
  5. Splash cold water: First thing in the morning and at least once more during the day splash eyes with cold water. The water could be slightly lukewarm but never hot. Our eyes are made of protein, which coagulates with hot water ( just like boiled eggs). You don’t want that ,do you?
  6. Beauty Treatments: Age old grandmother’s kitchen secrets always work! Lay down,relax and place used tea bags or potato slices or even cucumber slices on tired eyes. Cotton pads dipped in rose water too are quite refreshing. A good quality eye cream also helps. Discard very old make-up like eyeliners and eye shadows.
  7. Replenish vitamin A: Eat colourful fruits and vegetables which are a rich source of vitamin A and very good for your eyes.
  8. Think Happy Thoughts: Positive and happy thoughts always bring a sparkle to the eyes and make them alive!

Pledge to care for your eyes, treat them with respect and make them sparkle!  Lastly if possible, before you die try to pledge your eyes for eye donation. Bring colours in someone’s life. In all honesty I’ve not done that yet but will ,soon.

 

 

Picture source: Google images