Jan 14, 2011

Red rice pongal

It is my privilege to wish all readers a very Happy Sankranti / Pongal. In keeping with my wish to share tasty and healthy recipes, I have assembled a healthy version of sweet pongal. Here’s to happy, healthy eating.
Red rice pongal
red rice
You need
  1. Red Rice - 1 1/2 cups 
  2. Jaggery - 2 1/2 to 3 cups (I used the round ball kind)
  3. Cashew nuts – halved, a generous handful
  4. Ghee – melted, 1 cupful
To assemble
  1. Wash the red rice at least in three changes of water. Soak the washed rice for half an hour prior to cooking.This helps the rice to cook to a soft texture.
  2. Pressure cook the rice with 3 times volume of water.I used 4 1/2 cups of water for 1 1/2 cups of rice.I pressure cooked it up to 1 whistle on high flame and then simmered flame and cooked for a further 10 minutes.I had  a nicely cooked soft rice at the end of this.soft cooked red rice
  3. Break the jaggery you are using into large pebble sized pieces.Take the measured jaggery in a heavy bottomed pan, pour enough  water to cover the jaggery ( I needed 1 1/4 cups of water), and bring the solution to a boil. Stir lightly. When the water just starts boiling switch off flame. Wait for allDissolving jaggery in water jaggery to dissolve. Use a large fine sieve / colander to filter the impurities in the jaggery solution.
  4. Mix in the jaggery water and cooked rice, cook on high flame stirring briskly. bubbling pongal in progressOnce they are mixed well, reduce flame and keep stirring continuously, mashing with the back of the ladle as you go along.
  5. Add a couple of tablespoons of ghee as the pongal bubbles away.The pongal is done when it looks like a homogenous,semi-solid,  glossy mass.
  6. Fry the halved cashews in the rest of the ghee, pour with love over the pongal. Your delicious, healthy, fit-for-the-Gods pongal is now ready!
 Pongal fit for the Gods!
  • It is very important to cook rice to a soft mush for the pongal. Once the jaggery and cooked rice are combined, the rice will not cook any further and you could end up with a chewy or a ‘biting hard grainy’ texture.
Nutri notes
  • In India, the term red rice is used loosely to denote brown rice, unpolished rice, or hand pounded raw rice. So it  means rice where the grain is dehusked but bran is retained to a full or partial degree.
  • The benefits of rice bran are several. The bran is very rich in fibre –
  • Hence it is recommended to avoid conditions such as high cholesterol, high blood sugar, or heart disease.
  • For diabetics, and for patients of coronary heart disease, too, eating red / brown rice is recommended . It helps bring blood sugar levels down and prevents cholesterol formation in arteries.
  • Fibre helps easy normal bowel movements, so regular eating of red rice guards against constipation, piles, prevents diverticulosis, and several studies show results that  a regular high fibre diet guars against colon cancer too.
  • Besides fibre, rice bran is rich in iron, manganese, selenium, and most of the B complex vitamins. We stand to lose all these in white polished rice.
  • Apart from red rice, this recipe contains jaggery, another ‘unpolished’ food. Jaggery has higher levels of iron and trace minerals than refined sugar. Jaggery is also sweeter, hence you can use lesser quantity in a recipe. Due to this jaggery is a safe sugar substitute for people with borderline diabetes (within allowed daily limits).
  • Ghee added to this recipe does add to the fat content and to the richness of the dish – which reminds us to indulge in moderation!

Jan 4, 2011

Almond and dates halwa

‘A Very Happy And healthy New Year ‘ to all readers from Healthy Slurps. What better way to start a New year than with a sweet dish! If the sweet can also pack in a healthy punch - well, I can’t ask for more. Here is a super simple, yummy recipe for an un – put – downable halwa. Go ahead, start the new year with a BANG!! with this melt in the mouth creation….I must thank my dear sis-in-law, Deepa for giving me this recipe.
Almond and dates halwa
You need
  1. Whole almonds with skin – 1 cup
 whole almonds     chopped dates    skim milk    melted butter 
  1. Seedless soft dates – chopped fine, 1 cup ( I used Lion seedless dates)
  2. Skim milk, boiled – 1 cup ( I used 3% milk)
  3. White cooking butter, melted – 1 cup
  4. Sugar – 2 cups
To assemble
  1. Warm the almonds lightly in a microwave, this helps quick powdering. Use the pulse button in your mixer, and pulse grind the almonds to a soft powder along with the skin. The powder should look like this-
powdered almonds
  1. Take a heavy bottomed sauce pan or use a non-stick pot.
  2. Pour in all five ingredients together into the pot.ready to be halwaed!
  3. Stir the contents over fire. You can start off with a high flame, and then reduce flame to medium once the ingredients are incorporated well together and begin to bubble.
  4. It took me 15 minutes of stirring continuously over medium flame to complete cooking the halwa.
  5. The halwa is done when it starts frothing around the sides of the pot and begins to leave the sides.Remove to a storage bowl immediately.
  6. This does not need any garnishing, and can be served spooned warm. Perfect for cold wintry weekend treats!
Creamy, frothy slurrpy halwa
  • Take care to pulse grind almond powder – avoid extracting almond oil !
  • Chop dates as fine as possible.
  • Keep stirring over flame to avoid burning at the bottom of the pan.
  • Do not overcook – else it will turn out to be a brittle texture, instead of a moist one. If in doubt, you can remove from fire and can cool a spoon of halwa, check if it is done and then return to fire if it is still liquidy.
Nutri notes
  • Almonds are a great source of protein, fat, fibre, of vitamins-thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin E; and of minerals- iron, copper, zinc. This unique combination makes it wonderful for growing children.The fat is mostly of monounsaturated kind which is helpful in building HDL cholesterol, and reducing LDL cholesterol.For more information on health benefits of almonds look here.
  • Dates are energy packed, bursting with iron, zinc. Also a good source of potassium which is very necessary for smooth working of heart muscles and an efficient nervous system.Foods high on potassium also help in regulating sodium in the body, hence control blood pressure.
  • Dates contain no fat. The high fibre content in dates makes sure the body escapes constipation, colon cancer.
  • Dates also pack in several B complex vitamins such as niacin, pantothenic acid, folic acid.This makes it a handy snack for pregnant and lactating women as well as children in growth phase, especially if they are active in sports.
  • This recipe combines the two wonder ingredients almonds and dates and combines milk and butter to it as a bonus!The use of butter does make it a high calorie dish – however it is good to remember healthy, active children need no calorie restriction and you may just be able to get a reluctant child to eat this delicious form of dates or almond.As for the others, moderation is the key word to remember! Do indulge in this ‘healthy sin’ in moderation and remember to work out a little extra to deserve this lovely treat!
    Sending this dish to The Veggie Hut as my entry to ongoing event ' Winter warmers'