Have you heard of Shankarpale – Indian Biscuits..

Have you heard of Shankarpale – Indian Biscuits..

These were never my favorite things to eat. I have never cherished eating Shankarpale. First thing about them was their different name (Shankar in Marathi Means – Shiva ) and Pale means small vessel so there was no connection between Shiva and the Small Vessel and the sweet.

I was never enthusiastic about the whole thing because may be Aaji or Aai used to make it mostly during Diwali and it was just one of the savouries that they used to make so my attention was diverted to other tasty things like Chakli ( Murukku), Chivda, my favorite for 35 years 🙂 I think I was born to love Flattened Rice and all the recipes made out of it. More on my love of flattened rice later. So, this odd named savoury called Shankarpale were never in my list of favourites until somebody presented me with a very crunchy, mushy and sweet version of it.

I was spellbound to eat those small pieces of a wonderful snack which could be relished with a cup of tea or coffee especially in the afternoon. Post meal 2-3 hours is the time to eat something which you can munch on. It can be puffed rice, chivda or my newfound love Shankarpale.

Instead of giving into those sugar laden donuts, tea cakes, biscuits, it is better to savour 3-4 Shankarpale, I realized it late and felt that this is the most sustainable snack I can ever have. We can also replace maida to wheat flour in due course to make it better. But deep frying should never be avoided ( I mean baking something which needs to be deep fried takes the whole concept and nutrition out of it ) Instead of eating 10 we can munch on 5 but the Shankarpale need to be deep fried.

Me and Shrilekha were brought up in a Orthodox Brahmin household where FOOD was EVERYTHING. It was nutrition but more than that Food was a Soother. My mom was a fantastic cook, she was naturally good at making everything. I do not think she has learnt any recipe from anybody. It was her quest of providing her children and her family authentic and nutritious food which made all her recipes special.

As I remember, she was discovering a different way to make the Shankarpale more crispy, ultimately she did and we were excited to have her new version of small biscuits. She even made it with cumin and salt, for people who wanted cracker type Shankarpale.

Why I am reminiscing all this is because yesterday I was making Shankarpale for Joshi Caterers and I slowly slipped into the past. The whole process of making the dough, rolling it, making it into perfect square and frying it was therapeutic.

Mom used to make all snacks either pre lunch/dinner (main cooking ) or post lunch/dinner when there is no disturbance of serving other things. I used to call this as her “Udyog” means business. 🙂

As per her guidelines, I completed everything yesterday and started making Shankarpale post dinner, till around 9 PM. How was it? If you ask, it was heavenly.

With food I have strange equation, now a day, more than eating food, I have started enjoying the process of making. My sincere confession is that I never enjoyed cooking, I am still very reluctant enjoying it but yesterday was different.

In childhood one just eats whatever is served with a bit of tantrum, during teens one can chose what is to be eaten but with very less knowledge about food, during twenties we realize the process behind cooking and most of us try to survive, in thirties, we have a choice whether to eat a lot or make people relish the food made by you..I have chosen the later. 🙂

P.S. I am taking my Alexa rank to the next level with Blogchatter. This is my first post.

I failed – In my no sugar challenge :)

I failed – In my no sugar challenge :)

It is ok to fail, many people have told me but I seldom have failed in my many many pursuits if I ignore the surprise math test in 11std. Failure to do something does not feel great, it feels sad to not to have accomplished something.

No sugar challenge started when me and my colleague Vignesh who is a sports person were discussing about how no sugar has helped him.

He was talking about refined sugar and how completely stopping it helped him.

I was impressed and thought let me start it at once. It was exciting..no sugar..whatsoever with a resolve.

Next day I woke up to banana as always and some time later I tried having the no sugar tea. One sip of it was not great but overall it was fine. May be my taste buds were happy with the sweet taste of banana already so they did not complain much about the no sugar tea. I generally take one coffee around 11 pm, so my dear cook Kamakshi had to be told specifically that I am having this “vratam” please don’t indulge yourself in giving your akka (that is me) a great cup with a good quantity of sugar.

She was surprised because I am the one against all possible fad diets and fad rules about food.

Her coffee is out of the world but having it with no sugar was 🙁 never mind. I was ok with it. 6th day was Sunday. Little Ms. K is fond of chocolates and kulfi so is her dad. Both love sweets to the core and they indulge as they please. This Sunday, I really refrained from all types of indulgences deliberately. I was the topic of discussion at the breakfast table and everybody was condemning my resolve of no sugar.

I am not a foodie and I do not crave for sweets too but still people felt like I am depriving myself from my free will of having sweets.

Around 10 days of no sugar I started feeling as follows:

  • I was more alert
  • Slept well through the night
  • I felt that my oral cavity was healthy and fresh
  • No sluggishness throughout the day
  • My overall energy was constant without a slump.

It was around 12th day that I got a call from one of my friends. She invited me as a sumangali for Varalakshmi Vratam and I had to indulge myself in the naivedya that she served. It indeed had sweets and I did eat everything she served. That day we attended an evening food award function where dinner spread had an amazing variety of sweets which I have not tasted or had..I tasted around 5 sweets that day…TASTED (not indulged). So, my vratam actually failed that day and my belief that none of the fad rules work got reinforced.

Though I am back to my no sugar routine, there is practically no point in refraining from anything. Balancing is the key. You got to balance everything, your food, sugar intake, rice intake, salt intake and workout to maintain healthy lifestyle.  

I have failed in my resolve but I like my no sugar coffee. Kamakshi is also used to no sugar coffee for akka..that is more than enough at this point 🙂

How I Lost 5 KGs In A Week

How I Lost 5 KGs In A Week

GM Diet (General Motors diet)

GM Diet, while some of you might be knowing about this, some may be totally unaware. Many people must be even wondering,” Wow, that sounds great! When did General Motor (An automotive giant) venture into the food industry”? Some may be frowning on the very mention of the diet (as expected)! And many must be really patient enough to read now further about it!

Diet, exercise, weight loss are some of the trending words of today’s generation.

Despite its name, GM diet is nowhere related to the General Motors as confirmed by its spokesperson.

But this is the real story when I tried out this diet in the year, yes 2009! My weight loss journey started on 24 Februar,2009. I remember the day, date and the situation, then, because this was more than DO-or-DIE situation for me. Quiet understandable for a person who has always been fat!

That time it was a craze to follow this diet which ensured a loss of 5-10 kgs in a week’s time.

Wow! Doesn’t that sound great? Did I follow it meticulously and the results? Well, after this diet plan.

The diet plan for 7 days!

Day 1:- The first day is all about “Fruits”.  Yes! Only fruits and lot of fruits except bananas and high sugar fruits which include Mangoes, Strawberries, Lychee etc.

We have to understand that the diet plan is aimed to reduce weight so avoiding certain fruits could be beneficial.

Include watermelon, musk melon for their hydrating properties.

Day 2:- Having successfully consumed a variety of vitamins and minerals only through fruits on day 1, if you are committed this day will be easy for you.

Yes! Day 2 means you can consume all vegetables only! Raw or cooked vegetables can be eaten on this day. Make you platter as much colorful as possible.

Leafy greens, tomatoes, or cucumbers. Ensure that you keep hydrating throughout the day.

You can add a baked potato to it if you really crave for carbs in breakfast. Make sure to limit the potatoes though.

Day 3:- Bingo! Welcome to the day where you can consume together all the vegetables and fruits (except the potatoes, mangoes, etc). Yes! You are midway and so don’t even think of opening that fridge for that cake/chocolate!

Day 4:– If you have reached till here, then success is just a few days away! On this day you can eat 6 bananas and 6 glasses of milk. Space it at your eating hours and you will be filled throughout the day.

Day 5:Beef (284 grams)& 6 tomatoes or Brown Rice (One cup uncooked)& 6 Tomatoes:– You can have 6 tomatoes equally spaced as 6 meals and make 3 servings of cooked brown rice. Make sure you keep drinking lots of water.

Day 6:- Beef/Chicken/Fish(284 grams) or  Brown rice and vegetables:- Meat eaters can eat any combination of the specified meat while the vegetarians can take up any vegetables and brown rice.

Day 7:- Brown rice, fruits, vegetables (No potatoes) :- Yay! You are finally here. You have done a good job at cultivating a disciplined attitude for eating!

You can additionally have green tea and black coffee and yes whenever low you can always go on for the GM diet soup which can be prepared from six large onions, three medium-sized tomatoes, one cabbage,two green peppers,a bunch of celery,half a liter of water.

Whenever you have a hunger pang ensure you take a bowlful of the soup. Prepare it and refrigerate it or cook it whenever you feel hungry.

Advantages of GM diet:-

  1. If the soup mentioned is consumed before every meal,then you tend to eat fewer calories at the meal which follows. Facts also state that subjects eat 20% less at lunch when they take the soup before the meal.
  2. The GM soup also aids the weight loss.
  3. Consumption of fruits adds to the necessary fibrage which you don’t eat otherwise.
  4. Vegetables are power packed with vitamins and minerals. This diet ensures that a person consumes all the other vegetables. Especially, the ones who like only potatoes are the best fit for this diet.
  5. Brown rice is a complex carbohydrate with low fat.
  6. Chicken, Fish,beef ensure you consume good amount of protein.
  7. Eating bananas means you take your intake of sodium and potassium.

Many people get successful in reducing their weight and many find it hard to follow the diet itself. It also doesn’t advocate any exercise.

Writer’s and GM Dieter’s perspective:-

At that time, when the “health and fitness industry” had just started this diet was relatively new and looked very lucrative.

I felt this diet will flush out the toxins and cleanse your system.

Yes, I could overcome my plateau then. For me it was mind over matter. It meant I can keep a check on my mind and tongue. In addition to this diet, I could exercise as per my plan.

Thanks to Talwalkars Nagpur!I feel for a person who is stationery for the whole day and has no control over his tongue, this diet can be useful.

This diet if followed by the same bad food habits can lead to weight gain.  You may even lose only water content as weight. Always consult a doctor/ nutritionist before starting this so called fad-diet. Yes, it is rightly a fad diet , so what if I gained results?

But the other side of this diet is quite scary. This diet plan has no research to back it up!

Though it causes calorie deficit in a way, it also makes you dehydrated, lose muscle mass, makes you feel low on energy and nutrient deprived.

Today after 8 -9 years of religiously following up on a healthy balanced diet, if I look back, I feel,” What made me take up such a quick fix”? What made me fall for this “5kgs in 7 days package”? There is indeed no such thing called a “quick fix”! It is never about weight loss. It is always about your dedication, discipline and most important your religion. That is fitness!

Note:- I had undertaken this diet under the counselling of my nutritionist.

 

List of Terrible Food Combination As Per Ayurveda

List of Terrible Food Combination As Per Ayurveda

Food that causes aggravation of doshas, which is the main reason for disease , is called viruddharam (incompatible food). The effect of this gets accumulated in the body and gives rise to diseases. It should be considered similar to poison and artificial poisoning (Gara Visha). Here are some of the examples, which so many of us take as regular food.

In our Sastras eating food is just like performing the yagna into the fire in the belly.  Now the aahuti which we put in the yagna has a lot to do with the well being of the body. There are some rules which should be followed while cooking and eating food.

Do sizzlers,  brownie Ice creams,  Milk Shakes invite you? Well, here is what you should know about it.

Milkshakes and Smoothies:

All sour substances are incompatible with milk.So are all the fruits.

Now a day most of the people are taking milkshakes, thinking that it is very nutritious, but in contrary it is a causative factor for many ailments like skin diseases.

Packaged Cereals With Milk

Milk and salt are incompatible with each other and yet we add milk to the packaged cereals. In case you are wondering about the ingredients of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes. Here they are: Corn (88%), sugar, salt, barley malt extract, vitamins(vitamin C, vitamin E, niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, folate), minerals (iron, zinc oxide).

Green Leafy Vegetables and Milk

After consuming leafy vegetable drinking of milk should be avoided. Many fitness enthusiasts swear by the green smoothies. But

Green Smoothies is an example of blending incompatible food.

Horse gram with milk

Horse gram is the next superfood. Drinking horse gram porridge with milk is not advisable.

Mixture of hot & cold things

We all love sizzling brownies. Mixture of hot and cold things should be avoided as they are incompatible with each other by nature. Even adding cold water to hot water to make it drinkable should be avoided.

Heating of curd.

For many recipes, curd is the important ingredient.  For example, to prepare morkuzhambu, people use curd instead of using buttermilk. It is always better to use buttermilk instead of curd for preparing curd based food.

Banana with curd or buttermilk.

Overnight oats are the greatest example of combining incompatible foods.

Soaking oats in curd or milk and topping it with banana and fruit of your choice is something people love to eat as a breakfast in the morning. It is easy to make and ready to eat but it should be avoided given the ill effects of incompatibility of these ingredients.

Wheat + Sesame oil, Wheat + Hot water.

Wheat with hot water and with sesame oil should not be used.

Fish with Dairy, Sprouts, Black Gram, Honey, and Jaggery.

Those people who have been non-vegetarians and have been eating fish all their life would always say that fish with dairy is not a favorable combination. So if you are eating your fish with curd rice, please eat it with rasam rice going forth. 🙂

Radish with soup of black gram.

Radish with black gram is a bad combination and should be avoided.

Ghee kept in a bronze vessel more than 10 days.

Ghee if kept in the bronze vessel gets poisonous, so it is better to avoid it.

A mixture of the equal quantity of ghee & honey.

We should not only avoid consuming processed & packed foods but also food with a bad combination because it is one of the main reason for all lifestyle diseases like BP, DIABETES OBESITY & also CANCER.

Author Bio:

Dr.Prabhakantham

About me – I have been practicing Ayurveda for the past 18 yrs in a traditional way, I have experience in all Panchakarmas, I’m part of an NGO – AVAS, where I’m educating & treating underprivileged children.

 

The Story of a Biryani

The Story of a Biryani

Today in the want of a one pot meal, I made a vegetable biryani. It tasted great. Mind you, it took me 10 years to make great biryani.

I am a Maharashtrian, raised in a orthodox deshstha brahmin household. All my life I have religiously munched on whatever my mom cooked. Though she was an ardent devotee of so many gods, for me there was only one religion “ FOOD”. Deshastha is a branch of Brahmins which has Koknastha brahmins on the other side ( this is just for information) . My mom used to cook amazing food. She was a very pious lady and used to cook exactly the same menu during different festivals. For example, for Nagpanchami which is celebrated in Maharashtra, we never remember having anything else other than “ Sakharbhat” and “ Dind” (which is a type of small pancakes) there were many logical reasons behind her cooking. All the food which she used to cook involved seasonal vegetables and grains. Her cooking method never involved a lot of masala or a lot of frying. She seldom used onion, garlic, eggplant in her cooking. I wonder how she used to cook delicious food without using many ingredients.

As I got married to a South Indian household, I was not very sure what to expect because everything was very very new. All I knew that they would be having dosa and idli more than my home. I came to Chennai keeping my mind open and slowly I realized that there is a lot of difference in the cooking method of my mom and south india. Being computer savvy, I could easily get information about different recipes which people had generously put on their portals may be to help people like me.

But to tell the truth “ NOTHING” worked.

I could make the “Kozhumbu” but it quite never tasted like one. I could make “ Sambar” but it used to be much like “Dal” and not the sambar that my people were used to. Idlis were not as they would make and I could barely make good dosas. Those were the starting days of our married life. Couple of years on, I could now make okiesh food which people could eat. They say as you become a mother, you slowly become a good cook. But my daughter also could not completely change the way I cooked. Some poriyals, some sabjis were amazing. I could make soft fulkas from the day one and that was my plus point. But that was it.

After around 6 years, I appointed a cook, Kamakshi. She is from a village near Karaikudi and has worked in a Chettiyar household. An amazing cook and a very efficient househelp, Kamakshi realized the different ways of eating of my household quickly and adapted to the same. She makes great food. She is my first source of knowing authentic tamil dishes. The kozhumbu that she makes is lip smacking and so is the tomato thokku. The rasam made by her has its own fan following. The vegetable biryani that she makes is our staple food on EVERY sunday. The gobi pakodas which she makes as an accompaniment is my daughter’s fav food.  

Before Kamakshi, I could never know the real authentic taste of tamil cuisine.

Every dish is to be made a certain way and that certain way can be known only when somebody makes it in front of you or you have the taste engraved in your mind that you can replicate the ingredients and make the same.

Kamakshi is a god sent help for me to learn from an authentic source. But did I learn with her. NO.

It is her absence which taught me to remember the taste of each dish that she made and replicate the same. Today in the want of a one pot meal, I made a vegetable biryani. It tasted great. Mind you, it took me 10 years to make great biryani. It was not learnt from anybody, I just used my senses remembering the taste of Biryani made by Kamakshi and a lot of ingredients to make it great. Slowly,

I am realizing that good food is more about the exact ingredients that we add at the right time and nothing else.

Cooking is not an art but simple mathematics which I was ignoring all these years and was wondering why my mom never taught me to make great food like her. Perhaps she wanted me to come out of my shell and take my own time to learn cooking so that I love it all my life.

How did I make Biryani?

Prep:

  • Peel a generous amount of garlic and clean the ginger, peeling off its skin.
  • Cut beans ( ½ inch pieces) and carrots in julienne
  • Cut couple of onions ( long )  and dice tomatoes as usual
  • Make ginger garlic paste in a mixer ( I have recently bought a mortar pastle so I made it in that)
  • Make sure you have star anise, couple of cloves, couple of big cardamoms, cinnamon,  bay leaf and fennel seeds. ( if possible take it out and keep it in a plate)
  • For today I got Biryani Masala because I had to make stuff in giffy. If you have the patience and know how to make biryani masala, please make it beforehand. I used “Aachi Biryani Masala”
  • Curd around a cup
  • A couple of spoons of ghee ( clarified butter) and a spoon of ground nut oil.
  • Soaked Basmati Rice ( 1 big cup )

The Making:

  • Cooker is the best utensil you can make the Biryani in. So use your cooker. I recently bought a prestige clip on cooker which is an amazing cooker serving as a frying pan and a handi. You can use any of the available cookers though.
  • Make the cooker hot and put ghee as well as oil.
  • As it gets warm put star anise, cloves, cardamoms, cinnamon, bay leaf and fennel seeds.
  • In a couple of minutes, the aroma of these spices will prompt you to add onions.
  • Fry the onions for a minute and let it get soaked in the oil and heat till it turns golden brown. Add tomatoes to it.
  • Once onions and tomatoes leave their juice into the oil, add veggies and saute.
  • As they mix together and make a fantastic visual with their colors, add biryani masala.
  • Give it a good stir, some people also add lemon juice but I avoided it.
  • Add curd and again stir well.
  • By now, the whole stuff would be looking like a gravy. Nice and thick. This is the indication of adding soaked basmati rice.
  • Mix it well and add 3 cups of water. ( The Basmati rice which I have is new and soaks less water, check instructions on the cover of basmati rice to prevent Biryani turning into Khichadi ( LOL)
  • Add salt as per your taste.

NOTE: Clip on the lid and DO NOT PUT ON THE WHISTLE ( Thank you Shrilekha for this invaluable tip) in 10 mins please check whether the water content is fine and if it is then your Biryani is ready….Let it rest with the steam.

What are the takeaways:

  • You get a gorgeous Biryani Color
  • Nice Aroma
  • Well cooked basmati grains
  • A great taste.

I am not a fan of garnishing ( and lazy too) but you can always garnish it with freshly cut coriander and pudina… Take pics and post it on social media for extra satisfaction  🙂 🙂

 

Shopping Hacks for Busy Moms!

Shopping Hacks for Busy Moms!

Shopping has always been fascinating. We definitely have vivid memories of Sadhana dancing to the tunes of Jhumka Gira Rey Bareilly ke bazar me. Markets enthuse us with huge amounts of energy. Then let it be the Budhwar Bazar of Mahal or Sitabuldi Nagpur, Kamothe Bazar of Navi Mumbai or the hustling and bustling market of Mylapore, Chennai.

One of the prime reasons why I love marketplaces is that as a buyer I get to meet new people. Engage in a conversation. Talk to them in their local language. And yes here it is how I learned Tamil! We all have that preferred and favorite vendor who we wish to buy from. We trust her trade. We try to reach them for the best deals.

The lights at the night time at a marketplace, the arrangements of vegetables is many times love at first sight.  After a great shopping of grocery, vegetables one often tends to eat up at some local hawker to make up for the tired, dehydrated self. With changing times, we have to acclimatize with the newer situations.

I underwent a transformation when it came to my buying habits, after marriage. Now I had less time at hand to spend with my husband, for me and for the household. It was then, at that time when our late Perippa Mr Vishwanathan told me and cultivated the idea of buying the grocery and vegetables online. Local baniya was a popular online store in Mumbai, then.

And that decision to trust the new found love “APPS” gave my marital life and now postpartum life a breather. Four years and still on, I am a dedicated online shopper for grocery, vegetables, and other daily needs of the household.

Online shopping is indeed an order of the day and how?

 

  • It saves time:- Time for me is money. With my little one demanding all my time and attention, I invest this very dimension of my life very calculatingly. Just a day before if you order, you get the stuff right at your doorstep. No need to stand in long queues of time-consuming billing counters.
  • More variety:- Some of the online stores claim that they have more than 1000 brands of a particular item. I am sorted in this aspect and hence options don’t confuse me.
  • Good quality:- Four years my relationship with online shopping has always been a qualitative one with reasonable rates. And what if you find rotten carrots? Well, you can always return the same and get the money credited to your account.
  • Deals, Offers, and Bonuses:- A huge amount has been credited to my account as I avail many offers and bonuses. Loyalty comes with a price.
  • 24*7 customer care:- Most of the online portals selling vegetables and have great support. You can always chat with them or call them and they are indeed happy to help.
  • What more? Well, you can also avail their gifting facility. Present your loved ones with anything and everything.

Online shopping of vegetables and grocery is constantly evolving. Life becomes easy and hassle-free. Some of the online stores in main cities are

  • Bigbasket
  • Zopnow
  • Godrej Basket
  • Grofers
  • Spencers
  • More
  • Onlinesabjiwala

I am a Bigbasketeer! Are you?