Jan 25, 2014

Cream of Cauliflower Soup


I am surprised that I have not posted a single recipe for a soup so far. Rather unexpected, because I do make soups so often. To make amends for that lapse, here is a recipe I made for my daughter. She is enduring a bout of viral fever and nothing like a hearty soup to perk her bored spirits up.

Soups are very versatile. They can be made with minimal ingredients, can range from clear to rich and creamy. A soup can stimulate appetite, can cure anything from cold, flu to heart breaks. Soups are especially welcome during chilly wintry evenings.

What are the benefits of eating soup during / before a meal?

  1. A soup combines dual advantage of being nutrient dense and not energy dense. In simple speak, soups offer more nutrients and less calories.
  2. Vegetable soups are a tasty way to include more vegetables to daily intake.
  3. Broth based soups help to lower hunger, manage food cravings, increase fluid intake.
  4. Having a soup before the main meal helps to decrease intake of calories by at least 20%.
  5. Homemade soups with fresh ingredients are the healthiest, most nourishing and wholesome.

Soup Bowl waiting for the soup

You Need

  1. White cauliflower – 10 medium florets
  2. Cabbage –1/4 cup, shredded
  3. Onion – 1/8 of medium onion, sliced
  4. Skim milk – 1 cup
  5. Fresh water – 1 cup
  6. Butter – 3/4  tsp
  7. Salt – 1/2 tsp
  8. Black /White Pepper – 1/2 tsp
  9. Oregano powder –  1/4 tsp

To Assemble

  1. Blanch cauliflower florets for only 2 minutes ( to remove unwelcome guests such as worms)
  2. In a pressure pan, heat butter, fry onion to light pink, add cabbage followed by cauliflower. Toss until all vegetables are coated with butter. Add 1/2 cup skim milk, pressure cook till 1 whistle.
  3. Cool the contents, reserve a couple of florets for garnish and run in a mixer till it becomes a smooth puree.
  4. Return to pressure pan, rinse out mixer jar with freshwater, add that to the pan too. Add the reserved 1/2 cup milk to adjust consistency. Add salt, oregano.
  5. Simmer the soup until it just comes to a boil. Keep stirring to avoid scorching the base of the pan.
  6. Add crushed black / white pepper to taste.
  7. Grate the reserved cauliflower, divide among soup bowls, pour hot soup over that and serve piping hot.

Variations -

You may add rosemary or thyme instead of oregano if you prefer.

A pinch of grated nutmeg at the end will also be great.

A few pasta shells can also be boiled and added if serving to a sick child (for some calories and to make it more appealing).

Creamy Cauliflower Soup

Jan 17, 2014

Peanut Chutney

Peanut chutney and idli - power breakfast

My daughter is a total peanut fan.  She eats peanuts roasted, fried, boiled, in salads, asks for them in lemon rice, or if I am not looking, she gobbles them even raw! A jar of peanuts are never safe around her. To the extent that she is called the ‘ Li’l monkey’ of the house. She pouts and sulks when called so, and that tickles her big brother. So he runs her insane by chanting ‘monkey, monkey monkey’. Her dad calls her his fav  cute Li’l monkey – that did not seem to appease her either.
And then one day, I made this peanut chutney. Obviously, you cannot see the peanuts in them cos they are ground! Guess what? Her dad loved the chutney so much, he asked me, “What chutney is this? It pairs so well with idli” . My daughter was delighted. She ran to her dad, and told him “You are my favourite big monkey now, cos you like peanuts too! This is peanut chutney!” All of us had a hearty laugh. And peanut chutney came to stay forever at our home.
There are many versions of peanut chutney made, here is my unique combination of ingredients. I often add some coriander leaves, or mint leaves, a clove of garlic or even curry leaves to the mixture and then blend it up. You could try those variations too.
You Need
  1. Raw peanuts with skin – 1/2 cup
  2. Coconut, grated – 2 tbsp
  3. Onion – 1, medium sliced
  4. Green chilli – 4, cut in halves
  5. Tamarind pulp – 1 tsp
  6. Salt – 1/2 tsp
  7. Vegetable Oil – 1/2 tsp
  8. Drinking water – 1/4 to 1/2 cup for grinding
For Seasoning -
  1. Vegetable Oil – 1/4 tsp
  2. Mustard seeds – 1/4 tsp
  3. Urad dal – 1/4 tsp
  4. Curry Leaves – 4-5
Fry ingredients for chutney
To Assemble
  1. Take oil in a fry pan / wok / kadai, Heat it.
  2. Add whole peanuts to it, fry for 2 –3 minutes.
  3. Next, tip in green chilli cut in halves, followed by onion slices, last comes the tamarind.
  4. Fry well over medium to high flame, for 2-3 minutes more. Do not burn the ingredients. Stop frying when the peanuts look golden brown and the onions turn translucent.
  5. Add salt and grated coconut to this mixture, switch off flame ( cool it if you have time) and blend in a mixie to a coarse-ish smooth paste. You may need to add some water, say 1/4 cup while grinding to get a thinner chutney.
  6. Heat ingredients for seasoning, when the dal gets a warm golden hue, pour on top of chutney.
  7. Enjoy with idli, dosa, use as sandwich spread, or even with hot steamed rice.
Tasty tangy peanut chutney
Please do read the allergy information before trying out this recipe, especially if you have never eaten peanuts in any form before or if you have noticed any other food allergy symptoms too.
Some people develop an allergy to several nuts including peanuts. Symptoms may range from itching around mouth or throat, skin reactions, digestive disturbances, or more serious symptoms like breathing trouble too. In such situations, please stay away from peanuts in all forms – whether raw, boiled, roasted or fried. However, refined peanut oil seems to be tolerated even by people with peanut allergy. Still, do consult with your doctor before attempting to include peanuts in your diet.
Peanuts are a high energy food, most of the energy coming from fats and protein. As we know, all fat is not bad fat, peanuts are cholesterol free, have omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids.
To give a better picture, the total fats in 100 gms of raw peanuts is 49 gms, of which monounsaturated fats are 24 gms and polyunsaturated fats are 15 gms, while the saturated fats in peanuts are only 6 gms. They also have a high content of Omega 6 fatty acids – 15 gms / 100 gms.This makes it a valuable ‘good fat source’ in vegetarian diets.
Peanuts are also known to prevent cancer, help in weight control in moderate amounts and also have very valuable anti oxidants which have the heart health benefits and also prevent stroke. Regular consumption of peanuts also helps in preventing Alzheimer’s.
Peanuts are an inexpensive, ready to eat protein source, go ahead and enjoy it’s benefits.
Peanut chutney up close!

Jan 9, 2014

Basalle soppu Kootu

kootu pic


Basella alba or Basale soppu as it is known in Kannada, is a very nutritious green leafy vegetable. It grows up to a height of even 10 metres! This green leafy vegetable has amazing uses.

Health Benefits of Basella alba
  1. Topical anti inflammatory, anti fungal – helps to reduce freckles, treat acne, heal skin ulcers and reduce skin inflammation. Leaf juice mixed with butter used to heal burns, wounds.
  2. Decoction of leaves used as mild laxative, cooked roots used to control diarhoea
  3. Used to treat Pelvic inflammatory disease, sterility, threatened abortion, false labour
  4. In Africa, roots and leaves used for reducing stomach pain after childbirth, and to increase mother’s milk.
  5. The mucus from leaves if applied as a pack on forehead removes headaches and improves sleep, so used in Ayurveda for insomnia.
  6. To treat Vitamin A deficiency and iron deficiency anaemia
  7. The leaf has anti-oxidants - Beta Carotene, Xea Xanthin. This helps in free radical scavenging, hence has benefit on ageing or cancer cure.

It lends itself to a delicious stir fry or ‘bhaji’, or tambli in Marathi cuisine,or to basale soppu saaru in Kannada cuisine. Here is my attempt to make a Tamil style kootu with these very healthy greens. You Need
  1. Baselle Soppu – trimmed leaves, 4 heaped cups
  2. Red Onion – 3 medium or 2 big, peel and chop fine
  3. Tuvar dal – 3/4 cup, pressure cooked until soft
  4. Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
  5. Grated fresh coconut – 1 tbsp
  6. Green chilli – 1 or 2 depending on heat preference
  7. Salt – 2 heaped tsp
  8. Sugar – 2 big pinches
  9. Fresh water – 1/2 cup
For seasoning
  1. Any vegetable oil – 2 tbsp
  2. Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
  3. Urad Dal – 2 tbsp
  4. Dry red chilli – 1 –2 torn into halves
To Assemble
  1. Wash the greens in several  changes of water until no trace of grits, sand or mud remains! I dunk the trimmed greens into my kitchen sink. This way, I can wash them very quickly. Drain for 10 minutes in a large colander. Chop them coarse. We do not want a slimy paste while chopping them fine.
  2. Pressure cook the tuvar dal with turmeric powder until soft and mushy.
  3. Whiz the fresh coconut with the trimmed green chilli to a coarse mixture. Do not add any water while blending, just dry whiz.
  4. Heat oil in a wok / kadhai / fry pan.
  5. Sizzle the mustard and urad dal; when dal browns, add the torn red chilli.Add seasonings to oil
  6. Tip in the diced onions, fry well for several minutes over high flame, keep stirring to avoid burning. Foggy Onions!Fry them onions well
  7. When the onions have changed from pink to translucent and light brown, toss in the chopped greens. Toss the pan well to incorporate the seasoning oil into the greens. After you see some wilt, add  sugar, half a cup of water and cook uncovered.Onions + soppu                Soppu under a haze
  8. The greens are usually done in 7-10 minutes depending on flame and quantity. Now add the cooked dal, coconut mixture, and salt. Mix well over medium flame to blend all components together.
  9. Best served with steamed rice and a spicy sambar or tangy rasam.
Kootu ready!

Jan 2, 2014

Black Eyed Bean Salad

A very Happy New Year to all readers of Healthy Slurps. There is something about the air during New Year which is very invigorating and refreshing. Goodwill, cheer, positivity abound in everyone’s heart during this season. Here is my first recipe for this year which has packed in it, all the love and cheer of this season.
To kick start this New Year with more healthy recipes, here is a salad that I assembled today. As I have mentioned earlier, salads are created with available produce at my home without sticking to any recipe. The reason I am documenting them here is to share the recipe with myself as much as with all of you. For I find myself at a loss to remember all ingredients when I want to recreate that last great salad.

Come, eat me
You Need
  1. Black eyed beans ( Lobia ) – 1 cup, soaked for at least an hour
  2. Cucumber – 1
  3. Red Onion – 1 medium
  4. Roma Tomato – 2 medium
  5. Iceberg Lettuce – Roughly torn and measure 2 cups
For Dressing
  1. Red Wine Vinegar – 2 tbsp
  2. Extra Virgin Olive Oil – 8 tbsp
  3. Crushed Black Pepper – 1 tsp
  4. Salt – 1 tsp
  5. Granulated Sugar – 1 tsp
To Assemble
  1. Whisk all ingredients for dressing together in a bowl.( I used a fork to whisk them,) quite simple really. Set aside.
  2. Peel the lettuce leaves from the head and immerse in ice cold water.
  3. Pressure cook the soaked beans until just done. I pressure cooked them by simmering the flame for 5 minutes after the cooker gave out the first whistle.
  4. Peel and chop the other three salad ingredients in the same shapes – go with dice, slice or cubes. The only rule is to be uniform. That does give the salad a good appearance.
  5. Drain the water from the cooked beans, if any. Do not discard but use in soup, sambar, or as cooking liquid for any vegetable too.
  6. Toss all the ingredients and the dressing together in a suitable large bowl.
  7. Chill for half an hour and serve.
Filling and Tasty Salad
Come, Eat me