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Thursday, June 21, 2018

Book Launch: Low Fat Low Guilt: Recipes & Lifestyle by Dr Namita Jain

Last month, we had a society meeting, the members requested the society to serve ‘good snacks’. What they meant was that they didn’t want to eat the junk food of mumbai like Samosas, Patties, Ragda, or any other oily stuff that normally appears at every social event. Everybody is getting health conscious with fancy gyms mushrooming all over the city and people watching their diet. So this is the good time to invest in books that educates you on healthy food. The book #LowFatLowDiet does just that. It educates you on how to enjoy ‘good food’ without guilt.

This week I attended the book lauch and the unveiling of Dr Namita Jain’s 12th book titled Low Fat Low Guilt: Recipes & Lifestyle at The Leela Mumbai. The book was unveiled by India's Tennis Icon and Fitness Extraordinaire Padma Shri Vijay Amritraj

Is Junk Food Bad Food?

No food is bad. But when food contributes more calories than nutrients, the problem of empty calories versus nutrition becomes something to consider. While junk food need not be excluded from your diet, the quantity and frequency of consumption must be controlled” writes Dr Namita in her book.

In conversation with Mr Vijay Amritraj, many elements of healthy eating were discussed. He started at a very young age considering that health and fitness are the critical elements of our living. He wanted to be a doctor but sports gave him more exposure. He enjoys food, and travelling around the world makes it difficult for him to control his diet. “The important part of sports is our ability to stay fit and healthy” he said. He spoke about his son who is health fanatic and he feels that our body is like a temple and we have to watch what goes into our body.

Dr Namita Jain feels that Indian food is the best diet one can have, for example in Thali you have dhal, veggies, rice, chappati, papad and sweets that covers all the nutrients that our body requires. She feels that you don’t have to overeat but just 80% is enough to leave enough space for digestion. A light meal at night before 7pm is advisable and it is better to stay away from fat. A long walk, exercise to burn off the fat and a visit to gym can be added to the lifestyle to stay fit.

A leaf from her book explain the food pyramid.

It was an interesting evening. The book has all the recipes that interests me. Its colorful, glossy with pictures that make you hungry

I wanted to buy this book immediately but I was lucky to get one free copy for me, specially autographed by Dr Namita.

Nowadays, all the recipes are available on u-tube, but still this book has been a complete sold out. Low Fat, Low Guilt is an essential guide to following a healthy diet without compromising on the taste. It features low-cal recipes of delicious soups, salads, wraps, toasts, rice dishes, pastas and dips, making healthy eating a pleasurable experience.

I think this book is a treasure and is the latest addition on my cook book shelf

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Food Trail In Tenerife

This May, I made a trip to my family home at Tenerife, Canary Islands. I have lived in this town for over 10 years and I am fond of some of the Canarian Cuisine. Initially it was difficult for me to eat their bland food. Spanish don’t eat chillies at all, the closest they come to spicy food is garlic and capsicum. But over the years I have developed a taste for some of the well known dishes. I decided to try only my favorite ones during this one month trip.

I called my brother and told him that I would like to go directly from airport (before going home) to the Venezuelian restaurant (Carejita, my favorite) at Los Realejos, where I enjoy their Areperas. Interestingly, areperas are like big sandwiches , the bread is made of corn, it is deep fried and stuffed with different patties (veg or non-veg), cheese, tomatoes, lettuce and serve with chillies sauce and avocado sauce. My journey from Mumbai to Tenerife was quite long of three flights and transit at two stops. I was too tired to enjoy this meal of Chicken arepera, tequienya and yuca.

Went to visit my family (who were living on other side of the island) after few days and the dinner is must. Da Canio Pizzaria Italanio atSantaCruzDeTenerife has a typical Canarian and Italian food. Papas arugadas, padrones pimentos and championes a la ajo are typical Canarian cuisine enjoyed by locals. Whereas Pizzas, Rissoto campesia, brinjals with tomato and queso and buenueli de avocado gambas aand pollo are italian cusine.

On the day when I went for a drive with my nieces up the narrow slopes of Icod de los Vinos, and then drive down closer to the shores during sunset, we decided to stop by the petrol pump that also has a restaurant with a beautiful view called Mirador. We stopped by for cappuchino, sandwiches and a plateful of french fries dripping of cheese sauce, tomato sauce and ham

Then the day arrived, which was the main reason for making this trip. My nephew’s graduation day celebration at La Ecologia at SantaCruzDeTenerife. Pizza is the favorite of my nephew and the pizzas served in this restaurant were all organic. There were four different types of pizzas like pizza de louigi, capsicum egg plant, basil cheese and almonds and they all were amazing. Besides that I even loved the crispy fried brinjals in caramel sauce.

Las Rosas at LasEspernza is the restaurant where we celebrated the mother’s day. Although we had booked the table, we still had to wait for more than a hour. It was very crowded and this restaurant is well known for roasted meat and tapas (snacks) I specially enjoyed the cheese platter that had different types of cheese and coated with tomato sauce, avocado sauce and cheese sauce…so very rich. Their meat was so tender and juicy. And of course their lovely salads. Since the restaurant did not have much variety for vegetarians, we had taken vegetarian food for some members that were heated in their ovens.  

My niece was particularly eager to have some sushis, so we went to this Asian restaurant at SantaCruz called Daresashu. This seemed to be run by one close knit family with all members working in the restaurant. The service was quick and food was excellent and they even had in-house chilli sauce. We had Phillipino spring rolls. Sushi tempuras. Chicken ramen japanese and chicken tonkatsu.

One day I spent at Corte Ignes mall, shopping all day and tried some typical Canarian cuisine at their food mall on their top floor. Enjoyed the sardines sandwich and tortilla. And that wonderful churro chocolate.

How much can one eat outside if food cooked at home is also equally delicious? Tried my hand on various cuisines that my family enjoys in the evenings. I started going to the store with my brother every morning. There is a restaurant just opposite my brother’s store (Bazar Tejban, thats my brother's shop). Everyday I would see lots of tourists visiting this restaurant opposite our shop, called La Parada. They had Canarian cuisine. I went alone across to taste their food. Just ordered one dish (Squids in Ink with rice and potatoes) for me and the chef prepared specially for me. He understands that Indian prefer spicy food so he added few chillies too and gave me some hot mojos.

Just outside my brother’s store, Bazar Tejban, is a walking plaza. Every Saturday, farmers and natives come with their local produce of breads, sauces, cakes, herbs and fruits. There is cultural program held here with people in traditional dresses singing togather. It’s a tourists attraction and there is some local street food too. I bought papas arrugada and carne de cordero. The gravy was bland but the meat was quite tender.

My family enjoy asian cuisine and they wanted me to try one Chinese restaurant near their house that they frequent a lot. So one evening we went to Tian Li Asiatic Restaurant. They have good vegetarian variety and the vegetarian Sizzlers that had soya chunks, shallots and mushrooms. They were really good. I had my chicken in almonds and noodles. They serve prawn crackers to munch on till the food arrives. Loved those crisps.

There were many invites too where I had free food…lol.. Friends were happy to serve Indian food..mainly fried food and snacks. And we went to this Indian restaurant at Puertodelacruzcalled Indian Express Tandoori and Curry. We had chicken tikka masala, butter chicken, tandoori express platter, bombay aloo and some vegetable cutlets. I would suggest that if you are Indian travelling abroad, don’t bother dining in an Indian restaurant. Their food is cooked to suit the resident’s and tourists taste and is equally bland. It cannot be compared to Indian cuisine back please don’t.

There was good food everywhere. At the restaurants and even at home. The trip was good and am back now..tummy happy.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Lets Celebrate #MasalaDay Again

Cooking for self is a feast, you use whatever ingredients you like and feel happy whether the taste is good or bad, and will try again to improve the taste. You can try all the crazy dishes yet receive no complains from self because mistakes are the part of experiences. But cooking for family and friends is a responsibility. We have to be careful and know the taste of the persons for whom you cook. You cannot cook Indian food for European friends who avoid spices nor can you cook Chinese for your conservative people who hate to try new stuff. 

The other day, I cooked cauliflower for my family. I have come to spend some quality time with my family in Spain. I used red chiili powder and my family found my food too hot. I was feeling bad that they could not eat (although I found it quite tasty). But using red chilli powder is risky. There are various kinds of red chilli powders, some are just for color and some very hot. It makes no difference to me, because I have high resistance for hot pepper but my family in Spain avoid chillies for health reasons. Here, in Spain, garlic and capsicum is considered as spicy and is eaten in moderation. In India, red chilli powder is the ingredient used in many garam masalas. Kashmiri red chiili powder is used mainly to give the rich red color to the food. But in families that enjoy spicy food, super hot red chiili powder is avoided, green chilies is preferred ingredient and is healthy too.

In month of May, many Indian families start to grind Garam masala to stock up for the year. Special help is called to dry the spices in the sun and they manually pound the dry masalas. I decided to ask my family and friends about the different masalas that they use in their daily cooking and have found some interesting results.

Most of my friends are using Aseofitida (Hing) in their daily cooking, specially in dhals.  Other ingredients that are regularly used in their cooking are coriander powder (Dhania), cumin powder (jeera) and Turmeric powder(haldi).

Bengali friend uses panch poran that consists of Ani seeds (saunf), Caraway seed (ajwain), Mustard seeds (rai), Black cumin (kalonji), Fenugreek seeds (methi seeds) and asefitida (hing).

Parsi friend uses Cumin seeds (Jeera)  mustard (rai), chilli powder, Coriander powder (dhania), turmeric powder (haldi), khambati sambhar  Aseafitida (hing),  and curry powder.

North Indian friend uses Cumin seeds (Jeera), cardamom (Elaichi), black pepper (Kali mirchi) coriander seeds (Dhania) fennel seeds (Saunf) cloves (Laung) Cinnamon ( Dalchini) Bay leaves (Tejpata) Caraway seeds (Shahi jeera) and dry ginger powder (Soonth)

South Indian friend uses mustard and coconut regularly,

My Sindhi friend roasts and grinds Whole Black Cardamom, Whole Green Cardamom, Cinnamon, Pepper, Cloves, Jeera, Javatri, Nutmeg,Tejpatta and stores in the containers.

It was interesting to talk to my friends about the ingredients they used in their kitchen. One friend uses pink Himalayan salt in her daily cooking. “Pink Himalayan salt has minerals in their natural form, therefore is good for health, it is not processed like table salt.” She said.

Another friend is using organic turmeric in her daily cooking. “I prefer this because of Turmeric's anti - inflammatory benefits . We get this produce from special health food shops who import from India.  They come with certificate of authenticity for purity and non use of pesticide before and after harvesting. Also the consignment is not scanned through X-ray machines.” She said when I ask her for this special choice. “I love the strong aroma.  Only downside I find is the color of the organic turmeric is on the darker side as compared to one available in the normal grocery shops.” She added.

My cousin made a special mention of masala she used for making a drink to stay fit.  It contains 200gms cumin seeds, 100 gms dried coriander seeds, 100 gms fennel seeds. They are mixed well in one litre of water and kept it overnight. Next day they are boiled, strained and is sipped throughout the day.

Many different kinds of masalas are made in my school by differently abled at our CBD and Uran centres. In our school, children over eighteen years are graduated to vocational and home science unit. Parents of the children help children earn their living by helping them learn different techniques like cleaning, drying grinding, measuring and packing. the masala are sold, children earn a regular stipend and it gives them incentive to work.

Masala are used in almost all the recipes, but on daily regular cooking, minimum spices are used. Sharing the recipe my SIL made today for lunch.

Pumpkin and Spinach


200 kg pumpkin
1 bunch spinach
1 medium Onion
1 inch Ginger
1 tbsp Mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 pinch aseofitida
1tsp turmeric
1 tsp red chilli powder
2 tbsp oil
salt to taste
Coriander for garnishing


In hot oil crackle mustard seeds. Add ginger and cumin seeds. Add chopped onions and fry till light brown. Add turmeric powder and red chilli powder. Add chopped pumpkin, stir till tender.. add chopped spinach. Cover and cook till tender. Add salt. Garnish with coriander leaves.

I have been celebrating #IndianFoodObservance days with Rushina whenever I could. Last year too I had blogged about Garam Masala used in Sindhi Cuisine. You can find the recipe HERE

I am so happy that my friends and family cooperated in my research. My special thanks to Pakeeza Merchant, Deepa Betrabeth, Taruna Goyal, Vijaya Das, Poonam Desai, Renuka Mir, Usha Galani, Vimloo Shivdasani, Maya Mirpuri, Rani Ramchandani, Devka Mansukhani, Aruna Doshi, Dhana Tiwari, Lata Sharma, Nalini Poduval, Kasmira Balsara, Bela wanwari, Anita Mantri, Sonal Manjalani, Pooja Mohinani

Thank you so much......

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