Dec 3, 2013

Peanut and Peanut Butter


Peanuts / Groundnuts have been used in several cuisines in India and we do have a rich repertoire of dishes with peanuts. Who does not like Sabudana khichdi topped with roasted peanuts? Or peanut sundal or peanut chutney? Or what can beat the joy of munching on a peanut chikki square?

Peanut butter, on the other hand, is a recent entrant in India. United States leads in peanut butter production. Interestingly, India is the second largest producer of peanuts in the world and United States grows just a third of India’s peanut crop!

Health benefits of Peanuts

  • Peanuts have high protein content (highest among nuts). It is a valuable source of protein.
  • Peanuts are good for your heart. They contain anti-oxidants (even more than in fruits) and zero cholesterol.
  • According to a popular myth “peanuts have too much fat.” The fact is more than 75% of the fat in peanuts is “good fat”,(MUFA and PUFA) needed for body functions, keeps heart healthy and maintains normal body weight.
  • Roasted or boiled peanuts are great. However, fried peanuts are not. Fried peanuts have trans fats, hence not advised.
  • High in fibre, higher than other edible nuts such as almond, cashew, pistachio, and walnuts. Also has Vitamins B & E, Manganese, and Magnesium.

Benefits of Peanut Butter

Peanut butter has both health and convenience benefits.

  • Given the health benefits of peanuts, it is healthier than other table spreads such as cheese spread, butter, margarine, and jam.
  • In a vegan / vegetarian diet, peanut butter can help fill in the gap of protein requirement.
  • In a person who has normal body weight and is physically active, peanut butter is a healthy option as part of balanced meal.
  • For sports people, peanut butter is a great energy-protein-fat source.
  • Peanut butter was promoted as a super food in the United States about 100 years ago to feed starving people.

It is convenient in multiple ways. With its creamy spreadable consistency, it satisfies hunger with minimum bulk to a meal. It is a ready-to-eat food available in a jar. It has a long shelf life and needs no refrigeration. Hence it can be used on road trips, outdoor camping, etc. Peanut butter lends itself to several sweet or savoury meal options such as PBJ sandwiches, or as dip when combined with condiments, or as satay sauce, or salad dressing.

Caution before consuming peanuts and peanut butter

! If you are allergic to peanuts or any nuts, DO NOT consume peanuts or peanut butter. It can have mild to serious health consequences.

! If you are on a weight loss diet or on a special diet for kidney ailments, peanut consumption has to be carefully monitored.

! Presence of aflatoxins in peanuts can cause serious digestive disorders. Hence, always purchase peanuts and peanut butter from reliable sources.


Recently I attended the “Health Workshop on Peanut Butter” conducted by Agro Tech Foods (makers of Sundrop brand of food products) at Bangalore . Dr. Swarupa Kakani, well-known nutritionist and head of Dietetics Department at Sagar Hospital, Bangalore led the workshop.

This inspired me to independently research nutritional value of peanuts and peanut butter. This post presents my views along with some of the material presented at the workshop.

Here are some recipes shared by Agro Tech foods with us at the workshop.

Apple, peanut butter, Granola sandwich


Any variety apple – 1 cored and sliced horizontally

Peanut Butter – 2 tbsp

Low fat Granola – 1/2 cup


Spread1 tbsp peanut butter over an apple slice. Sprinkle some granola over the peanut butter.Top with another apple slice or serve as open – faced sandwich.

Peanut butter, apple, granola sandwich

Peanut Butter Milk shake


Peanut Butter – 1 tbsp

Jam – 2 tsp (optional)

Milk – 1 cup

Vanilla Ice cream – 1 scoop


Add all ingredients except ice cream to a blender. Whip until frothy.

Transfer to a glass. Top with Ice cream and serve.

Peanut Butter Milkshake

Nov 20, 2013

Sweet Corn and Pomegranate Salad

Colourful Salad
Ingredients for a salad are never fixed at my home. Assembling a salad is a flexible exercise, often involving the bringing together of whatever is available in the fridge, and finishing it off with a dressing, which is most often a citrus-y one. This salad too was created similarly with foods present at hand. Sweet corn kernels and juicy pomegranate do a pretty tango here, with some worthy add-ons such as red onion and grated carrot thrown in to merrily add to the colour riot. I’ve noticed quite often that my kids need no coaxing to try a salad that is as vibrant in colour as this one.
Apart from being loaded with Beta Carotene from the vegetables and anti oxidants from the fruit, salads help to increase the dietary fibre of our daily meal.
As per the recommendations of the National Institute of Nutrition, an adult person must have 40 gm. of fibre in a day, which includes soluble and insoluble fibre. Dietary fibre is needed for
  1. Proper bowel function,
  2. To prevent Haemorrhoids
  3. To prevent Coronary heart disease
  4. To control diabetes and obesity
  5. To reduce plasma cholesterol
  6. To protect against colon cancer.
Salads are the tastiest way to consume fibre in a meal. In addition, they provide colour, texture and variety resulting in a satisfying meal experience.
Go ahead and make this salad for yourself and share it with me too!
You Need
  1. Sweet corn kernels – 1/2 cup
  2. Pomegranate pearls – 1/2 cup
  3. Carrot grated – 1/4 cup
  4. Roma tomato, diced fine – 1 medium tomato
 For the dressing
  1. Salt – 1/4 tsp
  2. Pinch of sugar
  3. Juice of 1 medium lemon
  4. Crushed black pepper – 1/4 tsp OR Green chilli – 1 minced fine
  5. Red onion, diced fine – 2 level tbsp
To Assemble
  1. Steam the sweet corn kernels for 2 minutes in the microwave at high power. Set aside.
  2. Remove the pomegranate pearls from the fruit, keep aside.
  3. Combine all ingredients for dressing, mix well with a fork.
  4. Bring all ingredients for salad together, toss well with the dressing.
  5. Chill for half an hour in the fridge in a covered bowl.
  6. Serve along with warm pulkas or freshly grilled garlic bread or as a side with tadka dal and steamed rice.
Healthy and Radiant

Oct 2, 2013

Spaghetti Kitchen’s Gusto d’Italia ~ Review

Italian cuisine is a hot favourite in our home. Last week, I received an invite to review the new lunch buffet menu at the Spaghetti Kitchen and agreed with great pleasure.
The restaurant has introduced the ‘Gusto d’ Italia’ – a scrumptious lunch and dinner buffet. The festival has come to Bangalore starting September 25th, after seeing great success in Chandigarh where it was first launched. The invite proudly stated that “Spaghetti Kitchen has bagged the Times Food Award in Best Italian Restaurant at Kolkata and Bangalore 2011”. This sounded promising, and I was eager to sample the newly launched buffet menu.
The buffet menu is exhaustive. With three rotating menus and great options to choose from each, one can truly indulge in plenty more than pizzas and pasta. At prices of Rs. 399 for the vegetarian and Rs. 449 for the non vegetarian lunch buffet, and with slightly higher prices for the dinner buffet, this is a fabulous Value For Money option. I have reviewed only the vegetarian menu.
Non–vegetarians do have ample choices from the menu. I found an equal distribution of vegetarian and non-vegetarian selection
The buffet placardThe chalk board menu

Location and Ambience  10 /10
The Spaghetti Kitchen chain has secured a great location opposite the Forum Mall at Koramangala. Once inside, the large windows, cheerful home-like decor, and airy ambience look very inviting.

View of Buffet Pic Courtesy PR Pundit
Spaghetti Kitchen Interiors Pic Courtesy PR Pundit
Props and InteriorsProps and Interiors

Upon Arrival  9 /10
Fresh ciabatta bread with dips and olives set the ball rolling. The smoked tomato soup with basil was just perfect. Diners have the option of custom-assembling fresh salads from the salad bar. I loved the freshness of the salad veggies and the choice of dressings on offer. I also enjoyed the fresh Caprese salad served at the salad counter.

Live Salad CounterLive Salad Counter
Ciabatta with Dips and OlivesSmoked Tomato Soup

Drinks  7/10
With the on-going Martini Festival, and Millers Time Bonus (ask your server for ongoing offers), tipplers have a choice. There were good mocktail options as well. I sampled the Orange and Peach Virgin Martini – fresh flavours and an unusual combination! Surprisingly, I could not locate a wine list.

 Orange and Peach Martini Pic Courtesy PR Pundit
Antipasti  8/10
Among the starters, I sampled the Parmesan Cream cheese potatoes, the Sicilian Garlic Cottage Cheese and Eggplant Parmiggiana. The Eggplant Parmiggiana was clearly the best. Nothing extraordinary about the potatoes or the garlic cottage cheese. I missed out sampling the risotto; well, reason to visit again!

Clockwise-Mixed salad, Eggplant Parmiggiana, CapreseSalad, Sicilian Garlic Cottage Cheese

Entrees  9 /10
I had thin crackling crust pizza served fresh at the table, by the slice – great when we do not want cold pizza slices waiting for their turn! Smile
I was spoilt for choice with Fettuccine Pesto, Penne Arrabiata, Veg Lasagna and the Chef’s signature Penne Vodka (from the special cook-off held on that day), and sampled them all. It was difficult to pick a favourite from these dishes. In this four-way tie, the Fettuccine Pesto would win for the freshness and flavour of the pesto! Spinach and cheese stuffed ravioli in a tomato sauce was delectable too.

Fettuccini and Penne from Cook OffCrackling Crust PizzaVeg LasagneRavioli

Desserts  6 /10
With each course outdoing the previous one, I had great expectations from the dessert menu! Too bad, only the Gelato and the Cassata lived up to my expectations. The Brownie was decent, not the best I’ve had; and I’ve been lucky to sample much better Tiramisu elsewhere.

Gelato - yum!Cassata slice

The Cook-Off
The highlight of the day was the cook off by Chef Bill Marchetti.
Chef Bill Marchetti, previously with the ITC Group, has been the mastermind behind the Italian menus at Spaghetti Kitchen. He has lavished great attention to detail and opened up Italian cuisine far beyond Pizzas and Pasta for the Indian diner.
The Chef livened the scene with his humour, candour and enthusiasm. In what seemed like child’s play, he demonstrated three dishes – Spaghetti Amatriciana with Bacon, Fettuccine con Pesto and his signature Penne Vodka. All through the demo, the Chef was generous with his cooking tips and advice. ”Start with boiling pasta correctly. Use 1 litre water and 10 gm salt for every 100 gm dry pasta. Boil until al dente, drain, and do not rinse the pasta.” And more …
I sampled the Fettuccine and the Penne – both were outstanding! The fresh basil, fragrant extra virgin olive, toasted pine nuts and the Parmesan in the pesto gave the pasta a fresh flavour!

Beaming Chef Bill Marchetti
Churning out fresh pesto

Why Go To Spaghetti Kitchen?
  • The spread of Italian Cuisine in Bangalore (or probably in India) cannot get better!
  • Unbeatable prices for the awesome buffet spread.
  • A great bonus is the wide vegetarian choice in the menu. Nowhere through the meal did I feel deprived of delectable vegetarian options.
Score card – On a scale of 1 to 10
Hygiene  9 / 10
Food  8 / 10
Service  8 / 10
Value for Money  10 / 10
  • Please keep the good work going.
  • Would love to see dessert choices that live up to other courses in the menu!
Spaghetti Kitchen - At Hosur Road, Opposite Forum Mall at Koramangala.
Also at: 100 ft Road, Indira Nagar in Bangalore.
Special Thanks
Chef Bill Marchetti, for the lively cook off, for spending time with us and answering our queries on Italian cuisine patiently.
Sonia Praveen from PR Pundit for organising the day and helping with pictures too!

Jun 21, 2013

Corn dalia upma


A few months ago, I was browsing the aisles of my usual supermarket and found a new product. Always one up for trying anything new, I picked it up right away. Toying with several recipe ideas using the product, I finally decided to play safe and use it to make upma. Clicked pictures as usual and then put up a teaser on my facebook page inviting guesses on the ingredient used and the dish made. There were several close guesses. The first person to get the guess totally right was Lubna Karim who blogs at She was so happy to guess the correct ingredient with only the picture on the facebook page for a clue. I was awed by her guessing skills.

In honour, I am dedicating this blog post to Lubna Karim.

Lubna is a multi talented person, and so modest about it to boot. Loving wife, caring mom, super cook, amazing photographer, the list goes on…Lubna recently completed five years of food blogging - hearty congrats to you dear! Do head over to her blog for amazing recipes and pictures that entice you to try out each dish right away!

So the ‘new ingredient’ is Corn daliya – or Broken Corn Kernels similar to Broken Wheat. Also called corn grits in several parts of the world, it is either used to make polenta or cooked into a porridge. Here is how I used the corn frits to make upma that day. This quantity serves 5 - 6 people. Halve the measures to serve 2 – 3.

What’s good about Corn dalia?

Corn dalia, is a low cholesterol, low sodium cereal. Being gluten free, this dalia can replace wheat dalia in upma, khichdi, porridge or any dish – a boon for gluten intolerance disorders, such as Celiac diease, or even Malabsorption Syndrome.

Corn is a fair source of Calcium, Phosphorus and Iron too. The cereal has a better contribution to vitamin A and dietary fibre when compared to rice, wheat or oats.

You Need

  1. Corn Dalia – 2 cups Organic Corn Dalia!
  2. Fresh drinking water – 6 cups
  3. Vegetable oil – 2 tbsp
  4. Red onion – 1/2 cup, chopped
  5. Tomato – 1 cup, chopped
  6. Carrot – 1 cup, grated
  7. Green chilli – 3 - 4 finely chopped
  8. Ginger – chopped, 1 tbsp
  9. Curry leaves – 8 -10, torn roughly
  10. Mustard seeds – 1 heaped tsp
  11. Urad dal – 2 heaped tsp
  12. Salt – 2 level tsp

To Assemble

  1. Clean, and prepare vegetables as mentioned in ingredients list.
  2. Measure out 6 cups of water and set to boil.
  3. Heat oil in a broad kadai / heavy bottomed pan.
  4. Add mustard seeds and urad dal. mustard and urad - yin yang
  5. When mustard crackles, add green chilli, ginger, curry leaves, saute for a minute.
  6. Add onions tomatoes and the carrot. Stir fry for a minute on high flame. Seasonings and veg added
  7. Pour the boiling water into the kadai, add salt.
  8. When the water reaches a rolling boil, pour the measured corn dalia in a steady stream into the pan. Keep stirring steadily to avoid any lumps.
  9. After all the dalia is incorporated into the water, simmer and cover the pan with a fitting lid. Let cook on the lowest flame for 12 – 14 minutes. Cover and Cook
  10. Fluff up and serve with onion raita or chutney of choice.


  • Corn Dalia cooks for longer than wheat dalia, so the same upma can be assembled in a pressure cooker also.
  • Other interesting uses could be in recipes like khichdi, bisi bele bhath, corn bread, porridge, soups.

Glamorous Corn dalia upma

Upma - A closer look at texture

Apr 26, 2013

Sprouts and Palak

Reposting the recipe as entry to Only Cooking with Legumes event at Nalini’s Kitchen. A great event started by Pari Vashisht at her blog Foodelicious

You need

  1. Mixed sprouts or mung bean sprouts – heaped, 1 cup
  2. Palak leaves – wash in several changes of water, drain, chop and measure – 3 heaped cups
  3. Onion – chopped, 1/4 cup
  4. Garlic – 1 clove, crushed
  5. Tomato – chopped, 1/2 cup
  6. Green chilli – 2
  7. Root ginger – chopped – 1 tbsp
  8. Salt – 1 heaped tsp
  9. Garam masala powder – 1 tsp
  10. Oil – 1 tbsp + 1/2 tsp
  11. Jeera – 1/2 tsp

To Assemble

  1. Pressure cook mixed sprouts or mung bean sprouts for as much time as needed to be just cooked. The cooking time will depend on the bean. Set aside, for pressure to release. Alternately, if you are using only mung bean sprouts, just steaming them for 3-4 minutes would be good too.
  2. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a non stick pan or kadhai.
  3. Add in this order, each at a 30 second interval – garlic, ginger, green chilli, onion and tomato. Add salt, let the tomatoes mush up. DSC_00358
  4. Add chopped palak leaves. Toss the palak well in the pan, let it wilt and cook for about 2 minutes. DSC_00394
  5. Cool and grind to a smooth paste.
  6. To the same pan, add 1/2 tsp oil, Sizzle jeera in it.
  7. Tip in the palak puree and the cooked sprouts, add garam masala. Check for salt, add more if needed. DSC_0041_thumb9
  8. Simmer for 3-4 minutes, switch off cover and let flavours mingle for 10 minutes or more. DSC_0042_thumb4
  9. Serve warm with a lime wedge if you like, as accompaniment to hot phulkas or steamed rice. Yum. SmileSprouts and Palak - Double Healthy

Apr 15, 2013

Raw Mango Pachadi


A very Happy Ugadi, Tamizh Puthandu nal vazhthukkal , Happy Baisakhi, Happy Pohela Boishakh, and Wish you Happy Vishu to all readers!

New Year – Several names for the same event, many customs, happy celebrations, delicacies, it sure is happiness all around.

It is summer in several parts of India already. Our city is going through mid – summer too. The best part of summer is the arrival of mangoes in India. Raw, ripe, fragrant, in all sizes, mangoes are consumed in so many forms through summer. Apart from eating mangoes just so, they are also cooked into several delicious dishes. Each region of India has their own varietals of mangoes and several delicacies prepared with them too.

Raw Mango Pachadi is one such – hot, sweet, tangy, spicy, slurpy, all flavours in one dish. I never tire of making this simple pachadi during summer. Any variety of mango which has a small seed and plenty of flesh is good for the recipe. I normally use ‘Totapuri’ mango.The pachadi becomes part of lunch menus as well as festive menu at our home during this season. So I would love to share this much loved recipe with all readers on this Happy New year’s Day. Try it out and enjoy as much as we do.

Raw Mango Pachadi

You Need

  1. Raw mango, 1 medium – Peel skin, shave out pulp, discard seed. Measure 1 cup heaped of pulp shavings. Taste a wee bit of the cut mango. That will decide how much jaggery is needed.Mango pulp
  2. Jaggery -  If mango is super – sour, use equal volume of jaggery and mango. Else use up to 3/4 cup jaggery per cup of mango.
  3. Salt – 1 heaped tsp (again, depends on how sour the mango is)
  4. Turmeric powder – a pinch
  5. Fresh drinking water – 1 cup

For seasoning

  1. Any vegetable oil – 1 tbsp
  2. Fenugreek seeds ( methi seeds) – 1/2 tsp
  3. Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
  4. Red chillies – 6-8, broken into 3 bits each
  5. Curry  leaves – 5

To Assemble

  1. Take the mango pulp shavings and water in a slightly thick bottomed pan, set on boil. Once the water boils, cover and simmer  for 5 minutes. Stir once in between, check for water. Add more if needed. The mango should have cooked through by the end of 5 minutes. Skin, shave mango pulp
  2. Heat oil in a pan. Add fenugreek seeds, mustard, broken red chillies, curry leaves. Let sizzle.Add Seasonings to hot oil
  3. Add mango pulp, the measured jaggery, salt and turmeric powder. If your jaggery is big and lumpy, pound it to smaller chunks and then add. Allow the jaggery to melt and blend in with the mangoes.  Add salt, jaggery, simmer
  4. Give a quick mix, cover and keep for flavours to infuse.
  5. Serve with festive lunch of steamed rice, sambar, other curries. Raw Mango Pachadi
  6. Or just use as dipping sauce for samosas, smear onto chapatti and roll it up, or as dip for crudités. When using as a dip, squeeze out the red chillies, discard the curry leaves and then use.

Apr 11, 2013

Coffee Bean And Tea Leaf - Review


Cosy, homey, warm, comforting – are all words that come to mind when I think of the Cafe chain, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. Celebrating it’s Golden jubilee and running strong in India since 2008, the cafe chain has plans for expanding further too.

View of Indoor Cafe

The first thing that caught my attention was the ambience. With options of plush seating aided by soft lighting inside and a bright naturally lit ‘outdoor’ space lined with cafe table, chairs, the place looks cheerful and inviting.

The Coffees – I was informed that ‘only Arabica beans’ are sourced from East African, Latin American and Pacific regions. CBTL did not disappoint on the quality of coffee. Their mocha cappuccino was smooth, frothy, delivered the right coffee flavour with just a hint of chocolate and cinnamon. It was outstanding as was their caramel flavoured coffee. Others tried their “ice blended” Hazelnut and Double Chocolate coffees too.

Mocha CappuccinoCaramel Latte

Teas –  CBTL sources only whole leaf teas from across the world to ensure best flavours. They offer a  whole variety – Black, Flavoured, Green, Flavoured Green, Herbal Infusions and Fruit Infusions (whew – so many categories).

Chinese Black with Rose PetalsIndian Chai Blend

Quite a  choice, I’d say. – I tasted the Swedish berries – iced tea, (not really tea, rather a fruit infusion). It was very refreshing, aroma of fruits and berries wafted through, no mouth feel of artificial flavours, smooth aftertaste.

Swedish Berry - Iced TeaThe Swedish Berry leaves - closer look

We witnessed the brewing of ‘The Jasmine Dragon Phoenix Pearl’ – quite a sight to see the ‘pearled’ leaves uncurl in the hot water, and infuse the brew with it’s ‘jasmined’ tea aroma! The tea was an olfactory and gustatory treat! The jasmine did not overpower the tea flavour, instead, upon drinking, the tea induced a immediate stress-free, relaxed feel! ( Is it watching the almost magical uncurling of leaves playing on my mood?)

I sampled the Moroccan mint (Flavoured Green Tea) too. Invigorating, refreshing, great pick me up on tired days, I quite liked this one.

The Jasmine Green teaTea Bag Dipped in - at 30 secTea bag dipped in - at 1 minThe Ready Brew after 3 min

Choice of Menu – A new ‘Healthy Menu option’ launched to coincide with CTBL’s 50th year includes Banana Muesli, Oats and Cranberry Bars (mildly sweet, chewy, super yummy), egg white omelettes, multi grain croissants. A good choice of Low Calorie drinks such as the iced teas allow you to mind your calories and indulge at the same time. I saw Decaf coffees and teas on the menu card too.

Did I mention that their range of Sandwiches, Salads, Pastas are super scrumptious?

I sampled the  Roast Vegetable Sandwich with hummus, Seasonal Vegetable Lasagne and The Three Cheese Ciabizza. The lasagne was the best I have had in Bangalore so far. It was appealingly served with two garlic bread wedges. The sandwich did not speak much of ‘roast vegetable’, but tasted good with nice balance of creamy hummus and aubergines. The sandwich was served with fries and a tiny portion of salad. The Three Cheese Ciabizza is truly drowned in  gooey melty cheese. While a super calorie dense dish, this could be the  cheese lover’s ultimate delight. Any of these snacks, coupled with a drink could become a filling meal.

Oats Cranberry BarRoast vegetable sandwich with hummusSeasonal Vegetable Lasagne3 cheese ciabizza

Interesting dessert options like Blueberry Cheesecake, Banoffee Pie, Philadelphia Cheese cake, Oreo Cheese Cake, Brownies help you to round off the meal, should you be in the mood for some indulgence.

Dessert options

In keeping with the norm of international coffee chains, CBTL has special flavour additions like French vanilla Sugar, and Dutch mocha at no extra cost, to help customers, customise their drinks. Open-mouthed smile

Flavour add ons

Why go to CBTL?

Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf is a good choice for people to meet for business, for friends who want to catch up over (what else?) a great cuppa, for tired shoppers, for young couples who need some undisturbed space, for busy folks who can work away happily charged on caffeine (or decaf) and free Wi- Fi, for folks seeking a quiet spot to catch up on reading, for those looking for a hot or cold beverage, for a meal anytime, or just for some great coffee too!

Vegetarians have good  menu choices too.

Location – I visited the Cafe at 1, MG Road. This is in the thick of the business district and augurs well for the both cafe and customers. Other locations in Bangalore are at 7th Block, Koramangala, Inorbit Mall, Whitefield, Phoenix Market City, Whitefield, and the  Bangalore Airport.

Suggestions –

  • More outlets are surely welcome!
  • Menu could include more fresh salad options (found only two in the menu).
  • Offering baked vegetable wedges, such as potato or carrot wedges, instead of fries as accompaniment to sandwiches would make it healthier.

Special thanks -

Mr. Md. Zameer Ahmed, thank you for coordinating our afternoon, answering our queries patiently, and taking us through the nuances of coffees, teas and CBTL.

Score Card – On a scale of 1 to 10

Location – 10

Ambience – 10

Hygiene – 9

Food – 9

Choice for vegetarians - 9

Beverages – 10

Value for money – 10