April 28, 2014

Rawa Pongal

How to make Rawa Pongal

                  You've possibly tried the Rawa Upma that is commonly made at home and the popular Pongal that's typically made with rice; but have you tasted Rawa Pongal? If Indian cuisine is new to you, you can relate this dish to the popular Grits, except that this is made from wheat grits, lentils, veggies & flavored with Indian spices. This is a colorful, flavorful & tasty Pongal, can be served as such or with an accompaniment of your choice & has all the qualities to make it on the list of your family favorite. For those who haven't heard about this before - this pongal is creamy, moist & soft. Add veggies of your choice to make it healthy & nutritious.

Rawa Pongal

April 20, 2014

Chocolate Brownies

How to make Chocolate Brownies

      I fell in love with the chewy chocolaty heaven on earth; the first time I ever tasted these yummies which was well into adulthood & I thought, OMG! I have been deprived of this delicacy, all my life!! :) After all, what's not to like about them? I like to think of it as a cake, without the frills; which makes it a no mess, on the go dessert. The easy to make, brownie is a cross between a cake & a cookie, in texture. But, you can have them as you like - sprinkle with powdered sugar, Take it with some milk, drizzle some chocolate sauce on top, warm it up & serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, you could also use it on top of this delectable, Oreo Shake. I chose to eliminate nuts in this recipe for my son & added a few white chocolate chips instead, but you could add walnuts if you like. This recipe is also great in the sense, that it does not give off an eggy smell in your brownies.
       While thinking about this post, I was intrigued to find out about the origin of the decadent brownie & it goes like this - A chef at Chicago's Palmer House Hotel created the confection after Bertha Palmer requested a dessert for ladies attending the Chicago 1893 World Fair; it should be, she said, smaller than a piece of cake, though still retaining cake-like characteristics and easily eaten from boxed lunches. These first brownies featured an apricot glaze and walnuts, and they are still being made at the hotel according to the original recipe. (Source: Wikipedia)

April 13, 2014

Honey Wheat Bread

How to make Honey Wheat Bread at home

      Since the time, I heard about the yoga mat chemical in fast food breads (McDonald's, Burger King, Subway, and KFC & many more); I remained, ever so slightly bothered about why the FDA permits Azodicarbonamide, while it is banned as a food additive and in food packaging in most European countries and Australia. And its use in Singapore has some pretty severe penalties. The reason being - two suspicious chemicals are formed when bread with Azodicarbonamide is baked, which is linked to respiratory problems & potentially carcinogenic.

      While we do like to have an occasional meal at fast food chains (in spite of it being high in empty calories)  & have nothing against them; the fact that we might be compromising our health, affects the decision to go back there. While reading about the additive, I learnt that this particular chemical is also used in numerous other popular brands of packaged breads. Next thing to do, was to check my regular (multigrain bread) brands for the additive & there it was listed among a ton of ingredients - decided not to buy that anymore. A week later I found that it was also on my white bread - another brand had to be kicked off my list. While your visit to the fast food chains can be controlled, the packaged breads will be consumed on a daily basis, through out the year (at least, in my home)!! At this rate, chances of any reactions from the additive are enormously higher from packaged breads than from fast foods, I would say.

        The necessary ingredients in bread are pretty basic. You need flour, water, yeast, and salt for sure. And then maybe add a little fat for dough consistency and a little sugar to get the yeast going. A little flavoring, if you like. You take a look at the commercial breads or any packaged food for that matter and the ingredient lists are freaking scary!

         Now, will I stop buying breads altogether & make my own bread, hereafter? Very unlikely! Will I read the ingredient list, before i buy any packaged bread - of course, Duh...! Although more than 500 grocery store food items have this foaming agent, you can easily get commercial breads without the additive. Even if you are not the kind of person, who fusses over what you eat, remember to check the ingredient list of all packaged foods. It's always better to go with products that have a short list with mostly natural ingredients. It's best to err on the side of caution, when it comes to health; but hey, that's just me! Eat, Thrive & Stay Healthy!!

Home made - Honey Wheat Bread

April 6, 2014

Pineapple Mensakai (Sweet & Spicy Pineapple Curry)

How to make Pineapple Mensakai

          You know how, sometimes a song gets inextricably stuck in your head & refuses to go away, whether you like it or not? Yeah, I have that too - the Stuck Song Syndrome!! If you are a foodie, you should be able to relate to something similar - If I fall in love with a new or exotic dish; the flavors & that memory gets tattooed on my grey matter & rises out of my long term memory, every time I see a relevant ingredient even if it's eons later. Today's post, is about one such memory/side dish called Pineapple Mensakai. You could also add a small amount of boiled bitter gourd into this dish, it will probably go unnoticed (good, if you have any bitter gourd haters at home)

       The Mensakai is similar to the Pachadi (in Tamil), from the popular Udupi Cuisine (Mangalore, Karnataka). When I first sampled, this exquisite side dish at a friend's house warming ceremony, the foodie in me was so curious to know it's name & the recipe. I ended up walking out, extremely disappointed, since all I could figure out at that time, was that it was made with Pineapples - was sweet, tangy, spicy & oh so.... mouth watering!

Pineapple Mensakai - Sweet & Spicy Pineapple Curry

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