Apr 30, 2014

Cantaloupe smoothie

It feels like the worst April ever in my city, unimaginably hot these days.  To add to my woes, I suffered a hit in an amusement park that has left me with a broken rib. I expect it should heal in two months. Added to this are children having summer vacations who keep darting in and out of home in between their endless rounds of play – more thirsty than hungry.  Finding simple recipes to hydrate the children and the rest of the family while trying to ‘bed-rest’ my broken rib is quite a juggle.
In summer, we are naturally inclined to drinking more fluids to overcome thirst, cool the body and keep us sane! I am experimenting with more smoothies, shakes, juices as tasty ideas to rehydration and energy. This Cantaloupe smoothie is the result of one such experiment. When the fruit is made into a smoothie, it is more refreshing and filling. The well ripened fruit gives the drink an amazing flavour and we do not miss the sugar at all.
Cool chilled smoothie
  • Cantaloupe or Musk Melon, as it is called in India, is more available in summer than other seasons. The melon is very rich in Vitamin A, C, Folate, Niacin,  Potassium.
  • These vitamins are important during pregnancy, so the fruit is a good choice along with others for a pregnant woman.
  • The sweet taste of the melon comes from sugars, so diabetics need to work with your nutritionist to find it’s appropriate use in your diet.
  • The fruit’s high moisture content makes it ideal for summers, for rehydration during workouts. The smoothie thus is a very good pre / post workout meal. Made even healthier with addititon of flax powder (Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids) or sabja seeds.
You Need
  1. Skim Milk – 500 ml
  2. Cantaloupe / Musk Melon – Skinned and chopped – 2 heaped cups
  3. Honey – 1 tbsp, optional
  4. Ice cubes – optional
  1. Wash, skin and deseed the melon.
  2. Chop it into largish chunks and blend into a smooth puree in the mixer.
  3. Add 1/2 cup milk, blend again. Pour into a large jug, add the rest of the milk and stir to homogenise. Taste and add honey if needed.
  4. Chill for half an hour before serving. Serve with ice, if you like!
Enjoy the fruit and the smoothie!

Apr 14, 2014

Vendakkai Thair Pachadi / Crispy Okra in Chilled Yoghurt


A very Happy New Year to all who celebrate today. Happy Vishu to all Malayalees across the world! All family members taking time off from busy lives, praying and eating together, tables rich with culinary treats– these surely are some special features of festivals. Celebrations always involve good food. Contrary to popular thought, festive food need not all be time consuming to prepare, nor be calorie-rich.

Today, I would like to share a lip-smacking, simple recipe which you can use to grace the table at any festive menu. This recipe has distinct south Indian flavours, so you can tweak the seasonings to accommodate the demands of your palate or cuisine. (Read notes)

Happy New Year to all

The key point here is how the vendakkai / lady’s finger / bhindi / okra is cooked - crispy ‘fried’ okra is first readied by slicing it thin, drizzling with a quarter tsp cooking oil and grilling it for 10 minutes. This then is lovingly folded into a bowlful of thick skim milk yoghurt, seasoned with salt.The dish is finished off with a fragrant tadka of mustard seeds, curry leaves and pinch of hing in some oil. The grilling ensures that you save fuel, oil and time. The crisp texture encourages even die-hard okra haters to try it out. The chilled yoghurt is just so perfect for this blazing summer season. While this recipe is an accompaniment, you will soon find yourself eating a chilled bowlful on its own. Here is what you need -

You Need

  1. Okra / Lady’s finger / Bhindi / Vendakkai – 200 gm
  2. Skim milk yoghurt – 500 ml
  3. Salt – 1/4 tsp
  4. Sugar – a pinch
  5. Cooking Oil – 1/4 tsp

For seasoning

  1. Cooking oil – 1/4 tsp
  2. Mustard seeds – 1/4 tsp
  3. Curry leaves – 3
  4. Asafoetida Powder (Hing) – a pinch

To Assemble

  1. Wash the vendakkai by immersing in a bowl of water, drain on colander and spread out to dry on a kitchen towel. Snip off the tops and tails, and slice into even thin disks.
  2. Preheat the grill to 250 C.
  3. Place in a single layer on a baking tray. Drizzle 1/4 tsp oil over the disks, and spread in a single layer.
  4. Once the grill is ready, place the tray of vegetables inside, and grill for 10 minutes. Toss and scrape the contents at half time to ensure even browning. By the end of 10 minutes, the Vendakkai would have shrunk to half – size pieces, and would have browned evenly without being charred. You may need to watch the grill in the last minute to ensure correct browning without charring.
  5. Let it cool in the tray. Meanwhile, whip up the skim milk yoghurt with salt and sugar.
  6. Prepare the seasoning by heating oil in a small pan, adding all the ingredients for seasoning in order. Pour over the whipped yoghurt.
  7. Gently fold in the cooled Vendakkai into the yoghurt, chill for half an hour before serving.
  8. Serve with steamed rice, sambar, papads.

Bowl of chilled pachadi flecked with crisp okra


  • Avoid mixing the grilled vegetable too vigorously into the yoghurt, it will darken the colour of yoghurt.
  • You can experiment with flavours by adding roasted jeera powder, coriander leaves instead of hing and curry leaves.
  • Can be used as a dip for crudites or rolls too by seasoning with a tbsp of chopped, fried onion, a pinch of red chilli powder and a tsp of chopped fresh parsley instead of above seasonings.
  • Grilling the vegetables as opposed to deep frying them helps to cut down on cooking oil used.

Enjoy the cool pachadi!

Apr 8, 2014

Little Millet Khichdi


Weight loss is the most important reason people visit a dietician or nutritionist. People want to lose weight for many reasons. Some of them could include - to look good, be able to carry off several outfits, to feel more energetic and several other reasons too. It is not advisable, however, to attempt weight loss in an unhealthy, unscientific or haphazard manner. Many people adopt extreme measures to lose weight. We would have heard of several restrictive diets such as all fluid diets, cabbage diet, only fruit diet, only vegetable diet, only milk diet, and several other ‘only diets’. Pause for a moment and think: are these really nourishing, sustaining, or even feasible in the long term?

The big goal and focus should be on achieving good health and fitness. Weight loss should only be a part of the journey to fitness and better health. Weight loss and weight management should also be approached with common sense, moderation and with a long term goal in mind.  Changes in diet should be made gradually and systematically. Including healthy grains, increasing fluid and fruit intake, keeping an eye on what one eats/drinks through the day are all important points to be kept in mind when attempting weight loss.

Pack of the Organic Millet I bought

In a study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition on Glycemic Index and Obesity, scientists found a strong correlation between the type of grains consumed, its glycemic index and the ability to lose weight and keep it off too. This means, by choosing grains intelligently, it is possible to feed the body maximum nutrition while keeping weight in check too. Millets are a valuable group of grains which most of us in India have forgotten in the last century or so. Millets pack complex carbohydrates,(hence low glycemic index), more fibre than polished rice/wheat, are high in several minerals like Calcium, Iron, Magnesium. They are easy to cook too and flavours are quite mild and palatable. It is time we undo this damage of ignoring such nutrient powerhouses and allow ourselves their benefits.

This recipe is part of my effort to include millets in my family’s meals in delicious and acceptable ways. Little millet, also called Saama rice, Saame, Koda, is slightly bigger than semolina in size. It cooks very quickly, has an unobtrusive flavour and lends itself to several dishes easily. I cooked up this delicious khichdi several times in the past few months altering the spices and vegetables used each time. It is now a family favourite.  Do use the recipe below as a broad guideline and feel free to make your own favourite version.

Bowls of goodness

You Need

  1. Saama millet – 1 heaped cup
  2. Mung dal – scant 3/4 cup
  3. Potato – diced, 1/4 cup
  4. Carrot – diced, 1 cup
  5. Fresh green peas – 1/4 cup
  6. Bay leaf – 1 large
  7. Cinnamon – 2 thin sticks
  8. Cloves – 3
  9. Black pepper corns – 1  tsp
  10. Cumin seeds ( Jeera) – 1 heaped tsp
  11. Butter – 1 tbsp + Cooking oil – 1 tbsp
  12. Salt – 1 heaped tsp + 1/2 tsp
  13. Fresh water – 4 1/2 cups

To Assemble

  1. Rinse the millet and mung dal together.Place them in a suitable large vessel along with the potato, carrot, green peas and bay leaf. Add measured water,( read notes) place inside pressure cooker and pressure cook as you would normally cook rice. I reduce the flame after the first whistle and let it simmer for 5 minutes before switching off and letting it cool naturally.
  2. To a small frying pan, add the butter + oil, heat and add all the other spices mentioned in ingredients. Do not burn the spices, let them sizzle gently until it just releases its aroma.
  3. Pour over the khichdi when aromatic, add salt, mix well.
  4. Serve steaming hot with plain curd and a salad or kadhi and salad.

Creamy millet khichdi


  • Water - Add 3 times the volume of grain+dal if you want a creamy mushy khichdi, or add lesser for a less gooey version. I prefer the former for ease of spooning and swallowing!
  • Add spices such as cardamom, saunf( fennel seeds) or omit bay leaf if you feel so.
  • Any combination of vegetables can be used. Or you can make it with no vegetables at all too.

Sending this recipe to the following event started by Pari and co-hosted by Shruti. I am so excited to participate in such a useful event where all can use the archives for several healthy recipes. Do check out the spaces of both these awesome bloggers.

Only Grains

Also linking dish to event run by Nupur of UK Rasoi and Priya’s Versatile Recipes.