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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Dish Of The Day - Fried Rice

Fried rice for dinner

 stir fried with brocoli, spring onions. Spinach, green n'red capsicum and garnished with 5 spice powder, green chilies and soya sauce

Friday, February 22, 2013

Five Point Program For Staying Fit

The other day, I went for lunch buffet to Global Fusion with my cousins, I noticed that they did not visit the salad station at all, instead ordered steamed and stir-fried dishes.

With too many pesticides used during growing vegetables, it is becoming more dangerous to eat raw vegetables. Yet, when I went to this fitness chat with dietician Namita Jain, (I was invited by Nature Basket to attend her session on ‘Healthy Eating for Healthy Living) she started the session with Pomegranate salad using all the raw vegetables such as spring onions, carrots, capsicum, cauliflower and garnishing with grated ginger, lime juice, dates and salt.

It tasted good. It had no high cholesterol dressing like Mayonnaise or creams, but still I was hesitatant since all the veggies were raw. Were they washed? How many hours before the session were they chopped? I was not sure about that.

While we munched on the salads and orange juice, Namita started to discuss the 5-point program for staying fit.

Point I: Calories In equals Calories Out

First point to remember is that there has to be a balance between calories that we take in and calories burnt out. If the balance is not maintained then excess of undigested food is converted to fat.

Image source

Always eat light and exercise to burn the calories.

Calories are basically the energy in food, it is not possible to calculate every single calorie that enters our body, but it helps to remember that larger portions have more calories. So the easiest way is to eat smaller portions, fewer snacks and healthy meals. It is much easier for body to extract nutrients from cooked food than from raw food. For raw food you need to chew the food properly in order to digest it.

Burning calories is not just jogging or spinning on a wheel, they include other activities too. Almost all the activities that we do during the day- time burn up calories. For example, cooking for an hour burns 140 calories, taking care of elders uses 232 calories, gardening burns 298 calories, even playing cards/board games burns calories.

Point 2: Always have a square meal.

Every square meal must contain carbohydrates, fat, proteins and cereals. Actually our Indian Thali is such that it verifies the concept of a square meal. There are three types of calories that we take, active, semiactive and couch-potato calories.

Active calories are found in lean meat, fish, poultry, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and legumes.

Semi-active calories are in fiber rich cereals, whole-grain, low-far dairy, soups.

Couch potato calories from pastries, cookies, pies, cakes, fatty processed meats, chips, pretzels, snack food, greasy fast food.

However, too much of anything is bad and undigested food is converted to fat. The built up of fat in the arteries can narrow the blood vessels, leading to high blood pressure. But too little is not good either. Our body needs enough calories to give nourishment; or we will feel tired all the time. On an average it is important to have more than 1200 calories per day.

During my last visit to Hong Kong, I had noticed that Chinese ate several times a day and yet remained slim. I realized that it’s not how many times you eat but what you chose to eat determines our weight. Research shows that frequent meals prevent a high influx of fatty acids that contribute to high cholesterol level.

The second demo dish ‘Multi-grain Tortilla wrap’ was prepared and passed around. The stuffing consisted of crumbled cheese, green onions, coriander leaves, chat masala and chili powder. It was quite dry, even though I had it with tomato salsa.

Point 3: Indulgence and compensation.

There are times when we go for parties and we tend to overeat at the buffet tables. In such times it is important to compensate the next day by eating less. Actually it is important to detox once a week and maintain good eating habits. For detox you could have soups, steamed vegetables, fruits, milk and citrus fruits.

Point 4: Stop before you are full and eat before you are hungry.

Eating too much can lead to acidity and indigestion. Body needs fuel every 3-4 hours. You could eat small snack in between meals like apple, grams, or cracker so that you are not starved during the lunch hour.

Point 5: Self belief.

Mind is powerful; it can be trained to think positive for positive results. People don’t succeed because they believe that they cannot.

Banana nut spread was being prepared at the cooking station while she informed us about staying fit. Her assistant mixed the mashed banana with raisins, chopped dates and chopped nuts and served on cracker.

There were question–answer session after her talk, there was lots of interaction. The room had full attendance of about 100 people.

Women complained that the media and ads publicized the product too much, causing too much confusion and sometimes had adverse effect on their health.

Namita Jain counseled that the new product be tried in small quantities before including it in the regular diet because it may agree with some and with others it might not.

To stay fit, she advised that water is very important for our system and must be consumed at least 3 liters a day. One must eat light food at the later half of the day because detoxification takes place in the night.

Exercise is important because it helps reduce bad cholesterol. It is not advisable to go for walks immediately after eating. If you get tired after exercise then you are not doing it right. Many youngsters are overdoing it resulting in fatigue. She said that instead of taking advise from gym instructor, it is better to consult doctors before taking any steroids.

On being asked what suitable oil to be used in cooking, she advised that any unrefined oil can be used and brand of the oil can be changed frequently.

There was nothing new that we learnt from these talk/demo sessions, but it was worthwhile to attend it to refresh our knowledge and re-adapt to live the healthy way.

Came home with a damage of 3k to my pocket because although the demo is free, the bottles on the shelf are not, it is difficult to resist the grocery shopping when the food is all around you.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Chicken Roti of Suriname

I have happy memories of Surinam. Whenever I think of Surinam I am reminded of the food that I enjoyed while I was there and the memories comes alive whenever I have visitors from that place. We discuss food and relish the virtual taste, sometimes exchanging notes. I used to love the street food the most, there is a different kind of pleasure while eating in the open air on the wooden benches.

Just next to my house (in Surinam) lived a Javanese family who ran a restaurant. On the days when I was too lazy to cook, I would order duck Bami with mixed vegetables from my balcony. She would pack a large portion which would last me for two full days, full value for money.

The food in Surinam had a very peculiar taste that I have never been able to find anywhere else. My favorite used to be chicken roti. I have often asked my cousins (who live there) to pack me the cooked Surinamese food whenever they make their trip to India but they just laugh it off. 

They do come and cook for me whenever they visit me, replicating the taste as closely as they can but alas! It is just not the same.

The main taste of this chicken gravy is in Surinam masala. I must ask my cousin to send me this

I asked my cousin to send me the picture of Roti Chicken so that I could drool on it and she sends me this.

Well, this is not the way we used to get back then. It used to be dhal roti brushed with the layer of chili chutney and stuffed with chicken gravy, potatoes and beans, folded like a roll.

I came across this blog of Kayotic Kitchen and she explains step by step, the method of preparing this dish, which is quite time consuming but very tasty. She has used potato stuffing for roti pancakes but the authentic roti is the one made of dhal.

To make the stuffing of Dhal, you need to soak split peas overnight then boil until soft. Place the boiled split peas in a food processor, add cumin, onion, garlic and salt, process until well-blended but not pureed.

A similar Roti chicken is also sold at Trinidad roadside stalls, but the taste is a bit different. I think the taste lies in the curry powder and how it is used. For example, in Tom’s recipe of Chicken curry, he has mixed curry powder and turmeric powder, added water and stir fried till it becomes a thick paste and then added the other ingredients. His chicken also has mustard paste in the marinate mixture. But the results are equally good.

Some things are best enjoyed when cooked by native chefs. Also the person who has tasted, can cook it too if she has the right ingredients, maybe I can too, if I have the right ingredients….

 Hello…you hear me?? My family in Surinam?? …So now you know what to get for me when you visit me in India.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Fish Cutlets

I have family scattered all over the world. During those years when I lived in Tenerife and in Surinam, I was totally cut off from my family. The only communication I had with my cousins was through snail mail. Whenever we met, we met like strangers tying up the lost years, by the time the familiarity set in; it was time to go back. 

Social network has made it possible for us to stay connected. Now we live like one-large-closely-knit-family, all the conversation tapped under our thumb. We have a group on 'Watsapp messenger' where it is possible to stay connected with each other at all hours of the day. Everybody communicates at their own convenience, at their own timings, sharing their joys and pains, offering advice and solutions, there are long discussions, or harsh arguments, but the presence of their closeness is felt even in their silence.

There are jokes and forwards, audio and video clips.

If I complain that I have kidney stones, cousin advises. “It’s very easy” she types “take a bunch of parsley and coriander leaves, clean, chop, boil, cool, filter and store in the fridge. Drink one glass daily and you will be free from all the accumulated poison”

Well, if I listened to all the advices on health and wealth, that are forwarded to me, I would live to be 100 years, but I am lazy.

I belong to food loving family, so most of our conversation revolves around food. We can peep into cousin’s kitchen, thousands of miles away.

Me at Mumbai, comfortable under cool breeze of a ceiling fan. My cousins in Manila, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Indonesia have a pleasant weather, it is raining in Lagos, weather is good in Spain, it is freezing in New York, Texas, Albany. 

Everybody in their own comfort zone.

My cousin will not venture out in the freezing cold unless she has to. It’s snowing in Chicago. She spends her time doing what she likes the most…yes cooking. She shares her kitchen tips with us as she cooks.

She is cooking Tuna cutlets.

We all are curious to know her recipe for fish cutlets. Everybody knows to make it but everybody has their own method and we are always willing to learn to make a bit different from the normal ones that we are used to.

She starts to post pictures as she starts cooking.

Dry the tuna on medium flame

Add ginger and cumin powder, salt and pepper

Add onions, green chilies, coriander leaves and spring onions

Add egg and mashed potatoes

The cutlets look good

We all are drooling. We decide to make it at our respective kitchen in our respective town sharing with our families.

Cousin in Indonesia prepares the same day and thanks my cousin in Chicago for the lovely recipe.

I ask my cook to prepare. Its awsum! I share my picture while I munch. "Where is the Chutney?" asks my cousin.

well, who care? It tastes good just the way it is...there are enough chilies in it.

My cook has learnt a new dish, imported all the way from Chicago.
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