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From My Kitchen - Sanjeev Kapoor: DIVINE BEAUTY

Every morning I walk into office to be greeted by the most beautiful and unusual tree right outside my window. The leaves are bright green and large, like a million leaves I have seen before, but the flowers! Oh! The flowers are something else! Like soft pincushion balls. The buds like tennis balls. I can’t help marvel at the beauty of nature every time I see this tree. To find out more I googled it and here’s what came up.
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Turns out the tree is the Kadamb. Botanical name being Anthocephalus Cadamba. It is usually planted around temples. Why? Because according to Hindu mythology it is a favourite of Lord Krishna. He used to play the flute under this tree and play with the cowherds. Another name for the tree is Haripriya, a favourite of the gods! The Kadamb tree has religious value not only in India, but also in Java and Malaysia. It is said that Goddess Durga lives in a Kadamb forest.
The flowers are a favourite with bees too, you see them flocking around the flower, one day I happened to smell it and was pleasantly surprised with the fragrance. Talking about fragrance, one more fact came up on research. Kadamb flowers are used in the making of attar and this lovely tree has medicinal properties too and is a cure for many ailments. Beauty with purpose!
Another interesting fact that came to light was that the tree is used for soil reclamation. The large amount of leaves and other components it sheds enhances the physical and chemical properties of the soil.
Just when I was wondering if with all the uses it was edible and whether I could think up some recipes with it, I got to know that the leaves are sometimes used as plates. That’s the closest it comes to the food area.
It is believed in some parts of India that planting a Kadamb close to rivers and ponds brings happiness and prosperity. I offer a silent thank you to the person who planted it outside my window, may the gods bring him happiness too!

The Sugar Free life

Many of us grew up using refined white sugar. Consuming too much of the nutritive sweeteners or sugar grains can result in numerous health issues, which includes diabetes, obesity and heart disease. Nutritive sweeteners provide calories or energy to the diet at about 4 calories per gram. Non-nutritive sweeteners, also called sugar substitutes or artificial sweeteners do not provide calories and will not influence blood sugar levels.

Some of the excellent sugar substitutes are Table Sugar, Sugar Free Gold and Sugar Free Natura. Table Sugar is a natural source of sweetness. It is composed of glucose and fructose. Sugar Free Gold is made from a protein derivative ‘Aspartame’ and is ideal for your tea, coffee and lemon juice as they are 200 times sweeter than sugar. Sugar Free Natura is sucralose, a non-caloric sweetener made from sugar. It is derived from sugar (or sucrose) through a multi-step patented manufacturing process that selectively substitutes three atoms of chlorine for three hydroxyl groups on the sugar molecule. This change produces a sweetener that has no calories, yet is 600 times sweeter than sucrose. It tastes like sugar and does not leave an unpleasant aftertaste.

Since sucralose is non-caloric, it adds no calories to any of your foods and beverages. It is not broken down like sucrose and therefore not utilized for energy in the body. It passes rapidly through the body virtually unchanged. Food items made with sucralose. However, may contain calories from the other ingredients that are used to make them.

It has been proved through research and clinical studies that sucralose can be safely consumed by diabetics. It is not recognized by the body as sugar or even as a carbohydrate and is not metabolized by the body for energy. It does not affect blood glucose levels and does not have any effect on blood glucose utilization, carbohydrate metabolism or insulin production. Over 110 safety studies have been done on sucralose. It is absolutely safe to use them and has been approved by WHO,USFDA and FSSAI.

Scientific studies have also shown that sucralose does not promote tooth decay since it does not support the growth of oral bacteria. It is freely soluble in water at both high and low temperatures and therefore, can be used in most food products. It is also heat stable and ideal for cooking and baking without any loss in sweetness. It can be used for making a wide range of desserts and mithais besides being used as a tabletop sweetener like in tea, coffee, lassi and yes can also be used in the making of ice creams.

But yes it does not perform certain actions that sugar does. It lacks the browning, tenderizing and moisture retaining properties provided by table sugar. Moreover, it cannot be caramelized or used to make candies. Certain modifications need to be incorporated while using sucralose. When the recipe calls for beating ingredients like butter, sugar and eggs together you will need to beat the ingredients a bit longer to incorporate enough air into the mixture. With sucralose, you won’t be able to bake as good as done with sugar. Therefore, addition of cocoa or other dark ingredients may be necessary to get the browning effect. Also, ingredients like buttermilk may be needed for moisture retention. Baked goods will get done faster so one will need to check for doneness a bit earlier than the time that a recipe with sugar calls for. Furthermore, these foods will last longer if stored in a refrigerator.

Substitute Sugar Free in your everyday diet and see the difference.

Live healthy, live Sugar Free. I live a Sugar Free life, do you?

From My Kitchen - Sanjeev Kapoor: Saying Hola from Spain!



Currently in the land of senors and senoritas for work, but in a country like Spain its tough to stick to just work, a little play always follows! What is really great is that while work for me is all about food, even leisure and unwinding leads me to food! This is why I love Spain, there is never a dearth of the flavours, recipes and ingredients in this land. Everytime I visit, I take back home a new food experience! Amidst this plethora of food, there is one dish which shines bright like the pole star. This dish is the mighty Paella! Paella is to Spain what Biryani is to India, only more important. Different versions of this wholesome flavourful rice dish are created and recreated across the country. I have been fortunate to taste authentic Paella as well as some contemporary versions of this dish on this trip. Because I am on a work trip, writing at leisure is not one of the luxuries I have. So, I am quickly going to share with you 2 recipes for Paella.
One is a classic seafood Paella, which is how they make it in Spain. Another one is not really a Paella but a vegetarian spaghetti, that is cooked the Paella way and does live up to the taste of one. Now let me tell you a couple of things about Paella so when you try these recipes they turn out perfect.
  • Paella is a rice based dish. It is cooked a lot like a risotto. It uses short grain variety of rice. Paella is authentically made with Valencian Rice, which comes from a place called Valenciaon the East Coast of Spain. The idea is for the rice to absorb all the flavours of the stock and other ingredients in your Paella pan. Arborio rice is the closest easily available option to make delicious Paella.
  • Traditionally, the meats used in Paella would include snails, chicken, duck and/or rabbit meat. But don’t worry you can make an equally delicious Paella using other more easily available ingredients – it is a freestyle dish! Use sausages, chorizo, chicken, fish, clams, prawns, squid or just vegetables if that’s what suits your liking.
  • While making Paella keep in mind you cover and cook it on low heat. This ensures a crispy crust at the bottom of pan which is called socarrat. Perfect Paella should have a perfect crunchy base. These are the bits that everyone scrambles for in Paella.
  • A Paella pan is called a paellera. If you don’t own one, any 3-4 cm deep, medium-weight non-stick frying pan should do just perfect.
  • Two little ingredients that contribute a lot to the flavours of a Paella are – olive oil and saffron. So, make sure you skip out or compromise on these. Also, make sure the heat is evenly distributed – induction cooktops work great.
                                            CLASSIC SEAFOOD PAELLA
Ingredients
200 gms prawns, shelled with tails and head intact and deveined
100 gms clams
3-4 small fish
1½ cups rice, half cooked
3-4 tbsps olive oil
12 garlic cloves, crushed
2 medium onions, roughly chopped
1 red bell pepper, cut into long strips
1 yellow pepper, cut into long strips
Crushed black peppercorns to taste
Salt to taste
Sugar to taste
4 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 cup fish stock
A few strands of saffron, dissolved in 2 tbsps milk
1 tbsp red chilli flakes
3-4 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
10-12 fresh basil leaves
1 cup frozen green peas, soaked
Method
  1. Heat olive oil in a pan. Add garlic and sauté. Add onions and sauté till translucent. Add red and yellow bell pepper and sauté.
  2. Add crushed black peppercorns and mix.
  3. Add prawns, clams, small fish and sauté. Cover and cook for 1-2 minutes.
  4. Add salt, sugar and tomatoes and mix well. Add rice and mix well. Add fish stock, saffron dissolved in milk and chilli flakes and mix well.
  5. Add 2 tbsps extra virgin olive oil. Chop basil leaves and add to the Paella pan.
  6. Add green peas and mix well. Cover and cook for 1-2 minutes.
  7. Sprinkle some extra virgin olive oil.
  8. Transfer in a serving plate. Sprinkle some more extra virgin olive oil and serve hot.
                                       SPAGHETTI VEGETABLE PAELLA
Ingredients
200 gms brown spaghetti
1 large potato
¼ large red capsicum
¼ large yellow capsicum
¼ large green capsicum
¼ cup green peas
3 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion
1 tbsp chopped garlic
Salt to taste
2 cups vegetable stock
2 medium tomatoes
¼ tsp turmeric powder
½ tsp red chilli powder
Few strands of saffron
1 lemon
Juice of ½ lemon
Method
  1. Heat extra virgin olive oil in a non-stick pan. Halve onion, slice horizontally thickly and add to the pan and sauté. Quarter and slice potato and add.
  2. Chop red, yellow and green capsicums.
  3. Add garlic to the pan and mix. Add capsicums, mix and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Add green peas and salt and mix.
  4. Break spaghetti into smaller pieces and add to the pan and mix well. Add vegetable stock and mix well.
  5. Slice tomatoes. Add turmeric powder, red chilli powder and a few strands of saffron and mix well.
  6. Add tomatoes but do not mix. Cover and cook.
  7. Cut lemon into thin wedges and remove the seeds and centre pith.
  8. Add juice of ½ lemon and mix, cover and cook till the vegetables and spaghetti are done.
  9. Transfer into a serving dish, garnish with lemon wedges and serve hot.
Hope you guys try these recipes, leave a comment below as its always great to hear from you guys.
Given to a foodie that I am, it makes most sense to end with a Spanish phrase barrigallena, corazon content” which literally means “full stomach happy heart.” 
Adios Amigos! Till I write again.
Happy Cooking!

From My Kitchen - Sanjeev Kapoor: Ramadan Kareem!

The holy month of Ramzan calls for Muslims all over the world to keep a strict roza fast from dawn to dusk. According to the Holy Quran: “One may eat and drink at any time during the night ‘until you can plainly distinguish a white thread from a black thread by the daylight’; then keep the fast until night”. Post sunset, when the fast is to be broken, delicacies of all types are indulged in. The real spirit of the festival is about helping the needy while being grateful for everything god has given you. Sitting down with family and friends to break the fast together is an important part of the festive rituals. Ramadan as a festival has always been close to my heart because it shows us the power of faith, gratitude and love.

http://www.sanjeevkapoor.com/Recipe/Nalli-Nihari-FoodFood.html


In most parts of the India, tiny lanes and gullies are filled with vendors selling different type of ramzan special food preparations like kebabs, naans, biryanis, breads, fruits and of course sweets like sheer kurma *yumm*. Out of all these my favourite place for an iftaar meal is Mohammad Ali road in Mumbai. There is this old guy who sets up cart each day during the holy month and dishes out the most delicious traditional rustic meaty ramzan treats – nalli nihari, paya soup and a bara handi mutton masala. Just three dishes, and all of these are served with a pile of beautiful lachcha paranthas, ideal to soak up the juices and flavours of these curries!  However eating out regularly may be great for your taste buds, but certainly not for your health. You can now make these delectable dishes on your own, plan healthier meals and enjoy them without being worried. So get into the festive spirit, put on your aprons and get ready to whip up some nawabi dishes in your home kitchen and surprise your family and friends with your home cooked delicious iftaar meal! Over and above don’t forget to share any fabulous recipes with us, so we can share it with the rest of the world!

http://www.sanjeevkapoor.com/Recipe/Falooda-Street-Food.html


Try making yummy street food recipes like – baida roti, keema kaleji, falooda, seekh roti and Pudina lachcha parantha and mutton rogan josh and my favourite mutton shorba!
We have got all these recipes and more on the brand new version of http://www.sanjeevkapoor.com
Also sharing a recipe for burnt garlic and mint chutney – which goes great with almost all Ramadan eats!

http://www.sanjeevkapoor.com/Recipe/Burnt-Garlic-And-Mint-Chutney-KhaanaKhazana.html


BURNT GARLIC AND MINT CHUTNEY
Ensure that you have loads of this as it is always a super hit!
Ingredients
20-25 garlic cloves
3 cups fresh mint, roughly torn
1 tablespoon oil
½ teaspoon black salt
1 inch ginger, roughly chopped
2 green chillies, roughly chopped
1½ cups yogurt, whisked
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt to taste
Method
1. Heat the oil in a pan; add the garlic and sauté. Sprinkle black salt and sauté till well browned.
2. Grind together the fresh mint, ginger, green chillies, sautéed garlic and two tablespoons of water to a fine paste.
3. Add the paste to the yogurt and mix well. Add the lemon juice and salt and mix again.
4. Pass the mixture through a piece of muslin, squeezing well to get a smooth chutney.
5. Serve chilled.
Ramadan Kareem to you and your loved ones! Stay pious stay blessed!

From My Kitchen : Kachchi Kairi ki Khaasiyat!

Ever had bhel puri with little pieces of raw mango in it? Try it. We did last week at the office – had a bhel wala come in and give us all freshly tossed bhel, salted and ‘chillied’ according to every individual’s taste. Enjoyed it and got inspired by raw mango, kachchi kairi, whatever you may want to call it.
Cool and chilled 
Green mango has its many uses and it is a boon for those who cannot bear the heat. At home we have a tradition to have kairi panna in the fridge, ready and bottled, every day of the week. It’s cooling, it’s nutritious and it’s tasty! We add a generous pinch of green cardamom and some people prefer to add kesar too. You choose. So bhel and panna aside, green mango is lovely as a snack – cut up in thin slices and lightly salted. Yes, the pickle industry thrives on this mango and I do so look forward to the gunda kairi that my mother in law makes for us every year. 
Think out of the box
You can think out of the box while green mango is in season. Add some chunks to the dal, add some grated bits to thepla dough, make a nice chutney with grated onion, or make an instant pachadi with jaggery or use green mango chhunda to stuff mutton kababs or toss with peanuts and mustard seeds to temper rice. Grind two tablespoons of grated raw mango with a tablespoon of roasted peanuts, three tablespoons scraped coconut, a few red chillies and turmeric powder to a coarse paste. Add this to rice tempered with mustard, cumin, curry leaves and asafoetida. I love to add some whole roasted peanuts and sprinkle some grated green mango and grated coconut. Serve it hot drizzled with a little bit of ghee. Uses leftover rice very smartly!

From My Kitchen : Holi, lets you be!

Holi hai! Holi is one such occasion that let us all go. As this Hindu festival marks the beginning of spring season and celebrates life with the triumph of good over evil, spreading the message of love, unity and peace. People across India enjoy this festival with vibrant colours, tasty food and great drinks. Holi calls for some interesting activities, eventually activating hunger pangs! You can play around with one of the unique yet staple ingredients - yogurt or curd, which is our very own desi dahi. This ingredient is extremely versatile and the numerous recipes that include it cater to all kinds of palates. 
This Holi instead of serving traditional thandai to your guests, try out curd based recipes. Curd is easier to digest as compared to milk. It is also an option for people, who cannot tolerate milk, either because of protein allergy or lactose intolerance. This ingredient is used in both sweet and savoury dishes throughout India. Moreover, this ingredient is an excellent remedy for indigestion after you have consumed on mithais and other traditional dishes while rejoicing the festival. You can easily balance it out by dishing out some yummy curd recipes.
Did you know a good bowl of curd contains millions of microorganisms? Well, you don’t have to think twice before you reach for the creamy concoction as these microorganisms are ‘friendly’ bacteria that make the product good for health. Holi celebration starts early morning, which continues till late afternoon. So a bowl full of tadkewaali dahi chawaal will be very comforting. Why just curd rice, you can try out regular recipe with a tweak like dahi gujia or dahi idli. 
For an instant preparation, you can dish out good fruit-based raita, which is made with ripe bananas. Chop bananas and add well-beaten curd. Add sugar to taste. It is nutritious filler after you have reveled in Holi .
Go fusion this Holi! 
Happy Holi! Keep cooking and Keep eating and write back with your food experiences this Holi! 

Understanding acidity

Hectic schedules are a part and parcel of life these days, and the thing that gets affected the most is our meals and with irregular eating or eating after large gaps comes acidity!
            
The stomach normally secretes acid that is essential in the digestive process. This acid helps in breaking down the food during digestion. When there is excess production of acid by the gastric glands of the stomach, it results in the condition known as acidity. However, there are certain types of ulcers where acid secretion is either normal or even low. Acidity is responsible for symptoms like dyspepsia, heartburn and the formation of ulcers (erosion of the lining of the stomach or intestines). Persons who are diabetic often suffer from acidity.
Identifying and avoiding the causative factors are essential in the treatment of acidity. A suitable diet must be strictly followed avoiding spicy, salty and acidic foods. Smoking and alcohol consumption must be stopped. Those with highly nervous and emotional disposition and those involved in high-stress jobs must be encouraged to take lifestyle modifying measures. Antacids provide immediate relief of symptoms by neutralizing the excess acid secreted. Just being aware of what you eat and at what time will guide you to better health. Acidity is a common affliction related to stress in these modern times and we are sure that this list of things will be a helpful guide.
Here is a list of foods that are acid forming and low level acid forming…
Read more on http://goo.gl/ASGk4j

Eat Seasonal Fruits

1) Eat colourful fruits, as every colour determines the type of vitamin and improves the health. Bright, deep-coloured fruits have a high concentration of vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants.

2) Eat five to seven helpings of fruits /vegetables daily as they help in 3 main functions – to perform the protective function, boost defense mechanism and boost our resistance power.

3) Eat fruits in their natural state as they are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. Processing of any kind can reduce its nutrition.

                                  

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