My experiments with Oat Bran

I would start this post by saying- I lost 5 kilos in last 4 months- the Dubai stone of more than 13 years is finally off me – no more than a pebble now!! How did I do it? It’s no secret I just followed the very well know Dukan Diet and honestly I cheated a lot and at a lot of other times I just had no option like on our holiday to India. But in the end the diet has totally changed the way I understood food and its metabolism. The fact that I can eat how much I need to and still lose that hanging flab was totally liberating, for I have always been unhappy with controlling portions. And with food if it doesn’t make you happy then what good is it anyways?

Talking of Dukan I want to mention Oat bran- the cornerstone of the diet- I met oat bran only after embarking on Dukan and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t wince at as much as a mention of it in the past. However the image of the svelte figure of a fellow mum in my kid’s school strengthened my resolve to banish any prejudices of any sort and follow the diet to the last word and i finally shoved the first spoon of the gooey innocent grain in my mouth and never looked back.

I agree the grain can be bland and gooey so I decided to experiment with it and come up with ways to make it palatable. Here’s one, Dukan or not, if you’d like to give a try.

Oat Upma

Ingredients

1 tsp canola oil

1/2 tsp mustard seeds

4 curry leaves

1/2 dry red chilly

1 clove of garlic thinly sliced

1/2 red onion (medium sized) -chopped

2 tablespoons oats

1/2 a lime

chopped coriander leaves

salt to taste

Heat the oil, throw in the dry red chilly, mustard and curry leaves followed by chopped onions and garlic. Saute till onions glisten, add in the oat bran followed by 1/2 a cup of water. Simmer on low heat till soft. Season with salt, lime juice and chopped coriander.

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Oat bran is a fibrous husk that surrounds and protects the oat grain. It can absorb upto 25 times on average its volume of water, so as soon as it reaches the stomach, it swells and takes up enough space to make you feel full. It reduces cholesterol and diabetes.

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My tête-à-tête with The Gary Rhodes @Taste of Dubai 2012

I sat in my car and turned to my usual 103.8 Dubai eye and there he was ‘The Gary Rhodes‘ in the studios talking to the the breakfast show hosts. It isn’t too often that you have the best in the culinary world right there next to you to offer their best culinary offerings, so naturally the foodie in me was all ears.

The show hosts asked him so which is the one dish from you that we must try at the Taste this time and Gary said it has to be the White Tomato soup- A soup made from red plum tomatoes yet absolutely stark white in color. Umm….fascinating I thought, and so on the very first day when I got to the Taste of Dubai, I headed straight to Garry Rhodes restaurants- the Rhodes Mezannine and  Rhodes Twenty10. Gary was right there and I said to him-“I would love to try your white tomato soup that I heard you talk about on the radio show the other day”. And Gary said- “You know it is made from absolutely red plum tomotoes and it is white in color”.

“So do you put cheese or cream in it”- I asked, ‘No cheese, just a dash of cream just a dash- but I am not telling you anything else’! 🙂 ‘How sweet’- I thought!

His sous chef brought a glass of frothy white tomoto soup out and Gary said- ‘With my compliments’. I was delighted. I took a careful sip of the white frothy warm liquid in the glass trying to savor every hint flavor in there- pure white and warm distinctly tomato, yet a soft gentle creaminess – not heavy on the palate at all. It did not even have an overiding dash of the usual black pepper or even the salt. Very gently, warm and delicious…I loved it and decided I was going to unravel this recipe.

White Tomato Soup with Gary Rhodes

White Tomato Soup with Gary Rhodes @Taste Of Dubai 2012

The next day morning was a friday, I decided to give the soup a shot in my kitchen, I plucked a few red plum tomatoes from my garden and tried to achieve the same and did not quite get there. So in the evening when I returned to Taste, I went to Gary’s again. Look at my luck he was there again- I said to him-‘ I tried making your white tomato soup, and it had a hint of pale reddish tinge’, ‘Aaha’, he said, ‘you see I get it absolutely white, I have this technique of liquidizing, but I am not telling you anything’. (I smile, smile)

I had to buy his book- ‘Gary Rhodes 365/ one year’ and he said-‘I will sign it as I found you, ‘Simply delicious!’

Gary Rhodes 365/ one year

Gary Rhodes 365/ one year

More smiles, smiles…And I said- ‘Thank You, but I would like to give you a gift as well, I hope you would accept’, That’s when I gave him a copy of ‘Accessory Recipes’ that he so graciously accepted and said to me- “I cannot wait to see what’s inside it!!!”

I hope he did get a chance to see what’s inside it. I am just honored that he accepted it with so much love. I loved Gary Rhodes and I am going to make his very white tomato soup in my kitchen soon.

Sweet and spicy raw mango chutney- memories from my childhood

It has been a long time since the time, I saw my grandmother sit on her kitchen’s floor stirring her bubbling karahi (wok) of mango chutney on top of her prized coal angeethi. Speaking of ‘the angeethi’, a regular feature of every indian kitchen a few decades ago, which is so lost today that an image search on Google gave me hundreds of pictures of restaurants called ‘Angeethi’ but none of the angeethi itself!

The Angeethi is nothing but a little bucket of clay with a wire mesh on top where the red hot coal sits for the main cooking. The wire mesh allows hot ash from the burnt coal to collect below in the bucket. At the base it has a little window to clean out the ash, this creates a little barbecue on top and a baking chamber at the bottom. We as kids would put guavas in the hot ash of the base of the angeethi while patiently circling the wok of chutney to be unloaded. If you have not had, the ash baked guavas, you must, next time try throwing them in the dying embers at the end of a bar be cue.

Coming back to my grandmother’s chutney. I was barely 10 when she passed away, I do not have her recipe but here is how I made it if you’d want to try.

Homecooked Sweet and spicy Indian Mango Chutney

Homecooked Sweet and spicy Indian Mango Chutney

Ingredients

4 raw mangoes-washed, peeled and grated

4 inch piece of ginger- washed peeled and grated

2 tbs canola oil

2 dried whole red chillies

1 tsp fennel seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

3 cardamom pods crushed

1 garlic clove- finely sliced

1-1/2 tablespoon turmeric

1 tsp red chilli powder

2 tbs white vinegar

8 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 tablespoon fennel seeds dry roasted and lightly crushed

1/2 tsp ground cardamom

Heat the vegetable oil in a heavy bottomed karahi (wok). Add whole dried chillied and splutter cumin and fennel seeds; add crushed cardamom pods, add the garlic, as it turns golden, stir in the turmeric and red chilli powder. Add grated mangoes and grated ginger. Saute and coat on medium heat for about 2 minutes and add 500ml water, bring to a boil and then reduce heat to let simmer till the mangoes are mushy. Add the granulated sugar and vinegar, let the sugar melt and dissolve in the chutney. Season with salt and taste to adjust salt and sugar. Add ground cardamom powder and the roasted ground fennel for aroma, simmer for a minute and then remove from heat. Let it cool. Store in a clean and dry glass jar.

Serve as accompaniment with papads, chapattis or on bread in sandwiches.

Poaching an egg: How to do it and also what not to do?

Perfectly poached eggs are a delicious and healthy breakfast option- soft firm white almost like a mozarella cheese ball- concealing inside it a warm and soft sunny yellow liquid…

Perfectly Poached Eggs

Poached Eggs topped with Turkish Labneh served with sauteed Spinach and cherry tomatoes

They are extremely easy to perfect if you follow this simple recipe given here. Here’s a few steps to poach an egg and a short video to show you how you do it, the video is actually the time taken to poach, so as you can see it is just under 4 minutes!

1. Bring water to a boil in a small shallow pan, add 1/2 tsp of salt.

2. When the water starts to simmer, gently slide an egg into it making sure the yolk remains intact

3. In about 20 seconds, use a broad spoon to carefully scoop clean water from the sides of the pan and pour on the middle.

4. As soon as you see all translucency dissappear, use a slotted spoon to remove the egg from the heat

6. Serve warm  immediately with a sprinkle of salt and pepper or if there is a delay in serving blanch in cold water to stop cooking. If you have blanched, then before you serve, it is recommended that you return the eggs to hot water before serving.

7 Serve with Turkish Labheh and sauteed spinach and cherry tomatoes on the side.

A few words of caution, don’t do the following-

1. Drop the egg in water that’s not hot enough- simmering, bubbling ready to boil over is what is required

2. Overcook- this will make the yellow harden and you will lose the most delicious liquid soup inside it.

3. Stir too hard (obviously) this will make the egg white feather away.

Thick Creamy Rasam Soup: Start of a perfect Valentine evening

It’s the Valentine’s eve, the time of the year when we see magazines, newspapers, tabloids and even the extra newsprint thrown in between them, all go from pink to scarlet- heart shaped sweet nothings, the soft snuffling teddy bears, the creamy red roses and the cheesy lined greetings.

In the midst of all this madness and the creed, I am reminded of the sweet idea at the heart of it all…the idea of expressing your love to someone, someone special or even if not that special after all.

Even if you are single, try something different this Valentine, do something special for anyone in your life. Don’t dread the V day- as I heard someone say- because it’s a sweet, happy and usually amusing day.

If you do decide to do something nice, all I can give is a delicious advice, and if this all rhymes, you can blame Dr Seuss ‘coz I’ve been reading my kids all his story books!

This rhyming business is hardly romantic, so why not we cut short and flee the semantics!!!

(Okay, I know I really need to snap out of this) and give you a very special Valentine recipe- Thick and creamy Rasam soup- You can serve it with cooked shrimps or crunchy celery sticks (then follow up with balms, oils, candles or whatever else you think)

Valentine Day Soup

Creamy Rasam Soup- A Valentine Recipe


For 4 servings you will need:

100 g arhar (toor) daal boiled, 300 g ripe red diced tomatoes, 2 tbs of thick fresh cream, 2 tbs vegetable oil, 1/2 tsp cumin seeds, 1 sprig of curry leaves, 1 cm pc of fresh ginger, 2 garlic cloves crushed, 1 tbs Tamarind pulp, 2 tbs chopped coriander leaves and salt. Additionally to make the Rasam spice: Lightly roast the following- 1 tsp Cumin seeds, 2 tsp coriander seeds, 3 tbs fennel (saunf) seeds, 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds, 2 dried red chillies, 1 tsp black peppercorns, once roasted, grind these in a spice mill or grinder with 1 sprig of deep fried curry leaves, 1/2 tsp turmeric powder. Grind to a fine powder and store in the fridge.

Homemade Rasam spice

Homemade Rasam spice

Heat the oil in a big pot, add cumin seeds, once they crackle add curry leaves, ginger and garlic. Saute and add diced tomatoes, along with 1/3rd of the premade Rasam spice. season with a little salt and stir so that the tomatoes break down.

Add 1 cup of water and the boiled toor daal, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. When done, add 1 tbs tamarind and chopped coriander leaves.

Blitz with a hand blender to get a thick soup, Return to the heat and stir in  2 tablespoons of thick fresh cream. Adjust seasoning and serve your very own thick and creamy romantic Rasam soup! Enjoy.

How to make Chicken Fajita wraps with Mexican tomato relish and Risoni Pasta salad- A Videolog

These were the 3 simple and fresh recipes from Accessory Recipes for Magical Mealtimes that I cooked at the demo kitchen in Sharjah Book Fair.

Chicken Fajita WrapMexican Tomato relishMushroom and Parsley Risoni Salad

Chicken fajitas and mexican tomato relish wrapped in homemade tortilla wraps with a mushroom and parsley risoni salad to go on the side- all the 3 dishes can be easily finished in under 1 hour and they make a delicious, healthy and quick dinner choice. For our family this menu is a handy choice at least once a fortnight and I like it because its healthy, its colorful and is enjoyed equally by the kids.

The demo you see in this post is the video from the day of the launch of my book in the UAE.

There is a bit of noise in the background as this was a public event. Hope you’d still get a hang of it.