Feb 20, 2011

Lemon Poha / Aval

The humble aval / avalakki / poha at its tangy best. An anytime meal / snack, kids and adults alike love the tang, the crunch of peanuts and it’s inviting colour. What I love best about this dish is the nutritive punch it delivers.
lemon poha
You need rinsed poha
  1. Medium thick poha – 2 cups, heaped
  2. Lemons – 2
  3. Turmeric powder – 1 tsp
  4. Hing powder – a good pinch
  5. Salt – 1 tsp or more
  6. Sugar – 2 tsp or more (optional)
For seasoning ingredients for seasoning
  1. Vegetable oil – 2 tbsp
  2. Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
  3. Urad dal – 1 tbsp
  4. Chana dal – 1 tbsp
  5. Peanuts – 2-3 tbsp
  6. Curry leaves – 7-10, torn up
  7. Green chillies – 3-4, slit lengthwise
  8. Coriander leaves – chopped, 3/4 cup
To assemble
  • Wash the poha under running water in a colander, allow the water to drain, set aside. 
rinsed poha in colander
  • Heat oil in a deep sauce pan, add ingredients for seasoning in order, save coriander leaves for later.
mustard crackling in oil  add urad dal,chana dal,peanutsadd curry leaves,chillies,hing and turmeric
  • Add the rinsed poha now, tip in sugar, salt, coriander leaves in this order and gently fold the mixture to avoid squishing the poha.
fold in poha gently
  • Now is when you can squeeze in juice of two lemons (you can increase or decrease quantity of juice as suits your taste). Fold in the mixture with a gentle hand until poha, lemon juice and seasonings are well incorporated.
Your tangy poha is ready to be gobbled down.
Tasty, tangy poha
  • This is my basic version of lemon poha. You can add any or all of these vegetables to the seasoning mixture to add variety to the dish – chopped green or any coloured capsicum (peppers), grated carrot, boiled green peas.
Nutri notes
When compared to raw rice -
  • Rice flakes /poha have twice the calcium  and three times the fibre content. 
  • Poha also has thrice the thiamin (Vitamin B1) and twice the niacin (Vitamin B ) content.
  • The absolute stunner comes from the whopping 20 times more iron than in raw rice!! Add to this the availability of copper too, poha is a nutrient storehouse.It is a valuable food for those who are – anaemic, sportspeople, teenagers, pregnant or lactating women.
  • With the presence of Copper at  0.37mg /100gm in poha, and with the addition of lemon juice (Vitamin C) in this recipe, the dish is an excellent iron source especially for vegetarians. Reason – Copper and and Vitamin C are necessary for iron absorption in the body.
  • Addition of dals and peanuts also add to the protein content of the meal, apart from adding texture.
  • The dish can be made more wholesome by adding boiled green peas (protein), boiled corn, capsicum or shredded carrots(vegetables).
I hope I have conveyed the importance of using poha in our weekly diet well enough. Do let me know what you think about the nutrition information I have given here.

Feb 12, 2011

Tomato Herb Chutney

Luscious red tomatoes paired with fragrant coriander, the result is a flavourful chutney. My younger one wanted tomato chutney and the elder one wanted a green chutney; I was running short of time and threw both together – result was something all of us liked !
tomato herb chutney
You need
  1. Ripe red tomatoes ( any variety) - 2 big or 3 medium
  2. Green chillies – 3 (can add or reduce according to taste and heat)
  3. Coriander leaves – chopped roughly, 1 cup
  4. Fresh Coconut – grated,  1/4 cup
  5. Salt – 1/2 tsp
  6. Vegetable oil – 1/4 tsp
For seasoning
  1. Vegetable oil – 1/4 tsp
  2. Mustard seeds – 1/4 tsp
  3. Urad dal – 1/4 tsp
  4. Hing powder – a tiny pinch
  5. Curry leaves – 4-5 torn up
quartered tomatoes
 To assemble
  1. Wash and pat dry tomatoes. Quarter them.
  2. Wash green chillies and chop up.
  3. Remove roots of coriander, rinse thoroughly, drain and chop roughly.
  4. Grate coconut, measure out 1/4 cup.
  5. Heat up oil in a small frying pan, add green chillies, step aside.
  6. Tip in chopped tomatoes, toss to coat oil evenly.fried ingredients
  7. Add the salt now, and fry for  a minute more.
  8. When the tomatoes are squishy, (in a minute or two) add the chopped coriander and switch off flame.
  9. Let it cool, add grated coconut and grind to get a fragrant chutney.
  10. Heat oil, add ingredients for seasoning in order and pour over chutney.
  11. Serve with flair as accompaniment for idli, dosa, paratha, steamed rice, sandwiches, well, just about anything!
 tomato herb chutney
Nutri notes
  • Coriander (both leaves and seed) help regulate blood sugar levels by stimulating insulin production.
  • Volatile oils found in the leaves seem to have antimicrobial properties.
  • Coriander reduces lipid peroxides in cell membranes, thus inhibiting free radical formation.
  • In a study conducted on rats fed with high fat diet, adding coriander to the diet increased the HDL and lowered levels of LDL cholesterol.
  • Besides these benefits, coriander is also good source of dietary fibre, magnesium, manganese and fair source of iron.
  • A compound called dodecenal isolated from coriander, has been found to be more effective than antibiotics in fighting salmonella infection.
  • A drink of coriander seeds boiled with water  (in the proportion of 2 tbsp seeds per litre of water) cures urinary tract infection rapidly.
  • Apart from these amazing uses of coriander, it is also a flavanoid and phytonutrient dense food. I guess all this information will prompt us to use more of coriander in our daily foods.
  • Benefits of tomatoes have been discussed earlier, hence I am not repeating it here.
  • Addition of coconut, though minimal, will increase the fat content of the chutney. One alternative is to use chutney dal in place of coconut. The taste does differ, but provides a healthier alternative.