Thursday, October 25, 2007

Real Junnu & custard

Sumptuous Junnu.

Oh!! what a delight to eat real junnu here in US. Yes the pic you see is not a immitation of junnu made from eggs or china grass. But it is real 24k junnu!! Well, I am blessed to live close by an Amish farmer who sells raw milk. I usually get my milk from him(i don't use the store brought kind). I asked him if he could sell me colostrum, the first milk after a calf is born.... The lady at the farm stopped me the other day to check if i would want some junnu milk. Did I say yes? oh I was delighted to say, ofcourse why not!The colostrum, is rich with antibodies and immune factors. One of my friend who is an American is a Natural health practitioner. I one time saw some tablets at her place called 'Transfer Factor' made from colostrum of a cow, to increase immunity. I ended up using that for my family when ever we were sick. Then I realized that , what we call as a dessert made from Junnu palu back in India is actually a healthy and nutritious food. As I was enjoying the melt in mouth junnu, I felt big and strong with my immunity levels racing :-), no guilt what so ever. I would encourage you to check if you have any farmer close by your place for your dairy needs. Who knows, you may end up making junnu one day.The recipe here is a rough measurement from my mom.

Junnu -kadambu paal in tamil, cheek in hindi, kharwas in marathi ...

Junnu or custard:

junnu milk - 1 cup
plain milk - 1 cup
jaggery to your taste (I added 1/2 cup powdered jaggery)
pepper corns - 1 tsp
dry ginger( sonti) - 1 tsp
Elaichi or cardamom - 3

Take the dry items in a blender and grind them into coarse powder. Mix all the ingredients, Pour the mixture into individual custard bowls or a baking dish and place it in a pan of hot water and set the pan in a 325 F oven. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until set. you can also do it on stove top but i prefer it this way. A knife inserted comes out clean. Cool slightly and serve warm or chilled.

I am also giving a recipe for custard with eggs

Basic Baked Custard:

eggs - 4
honey - 1/4 cup
milk - 3 cups
salt - 1/8 tsp
vanilla - 1/2 tsp
pinch nutmeg

Beat eggs. Beat in honey, milk, salt & vanilla. pour the mixture into an ungreased glass 1 quart baking dish and sprinkle nutmeg. place it in a pan of hot water and set the pan in a 325 F oven. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until set. A knife inserted comes out clean. Cool slightly and serve warm or chilled with granola or just plain.

Be Nourished!!!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Whole Grains : Jowar vada

Treasure Hunt - Pearls in a Jewelery box !! nope, Wholesome Jowar

Yet another important whole grain. Jowar is considered fourth most important cereal grain in the world. We always use Jowar flour to make Jowar roti ,but I am posting a recipe for vadas using whole jowar. For a novice like me, Making vadas is much easier than trying a hand on much complicated Jowar roti. This is my mom's recipe. Hope You will like it too.

Jowar Vada (or) Jonna Garelu:

Whole Jowar - 2 cups soaked overnight.
Onions - 1 medium finely chopped
Green chillies - 3 finely chopped
Cumin seeds - 1tsp
Salt to taste
Oil for deep frying, preferably peanut oil.

Jowar Vada ready to munch on...

Soak the jowar overnight or 7-8 hrs. I usually soak it in the Blender or Mixer Jar. Next day drain the remaining water and grind it after adding salt. It does not become into a smooth dough or may be I am not patient enough!!!. Now add onions, green chillies, cumin and mix it with the dough by hand. Heat sufficient oil, take small lemon sized balls and press on a greased, thick plastic paper and deep fry until done. You can eat them like that or with a pickle or any chutney of your choice. Wholesome goodness of Jowar in tastey vadas was our breakfast today.

Be Nourished!!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Whole Grains : Popcorn Laddu

Popcorn Laddu a.k.a, Pelala Laddu in Telugu. I was looking for a recipe with corn and came across a recipe on the popcorn kernels packet which said 'Popcorn balls' and i decided to Indianise it by adding Jaggery instead of Maple Syrup. I vaguely remember that it is also made in rural parts of telangana with Jonna pelalu, called as Jonna Pelala Laddu. So i decided to give it a try. I followed Borugula (Murmura) laddu recipe of Indira of Mahanandi. Here's the experiment from my kitchen to yours.

Pelala Laddu:

Popping the corn:

1)A pan with a lid and handle to hold (or) a popcorn popper
2)Oil - 3tbsp
3)Corn - 1/2 cup

I don't recommend a Microwave to pop the kernels as it is harmful to your health. I would be posting more on that later. Preheat oil on high heat in the popper or pan for approximately 1 minute. Add kernels to the pan and cover. As the corn starts popping, Lower heat slightly. Agitate popper or pan until the popcorn ceases to pop. Pour popcorn into a bowl. Now grind the popcorn coarsely. make up to 6 cups of coarse popcorn.

Jaggery syrup:

1)Jaggery - 1 cup(powdered)
2)water - 1 cup
3)Cardamom - 2 (seeds powdered)
4)popcorn- 6 cups
Keep a small bowl with cold water ready.

Take a thick-bottomed vessel, add water and jaggery. Cook on medium-high heat. Jaggery melts and begins to concentrate. When it starts foaming , it reached the consistency we want for this recipe. To test, add few drops of Jaggery syrup to the cold water. When pushed with fingers, if the syrup can be rolled to a round without melting in spite of tilting the plate to different directions, it is done and the syrup is ready. This whole process takes about 15 to 20 minutes.
Constantly stirring, add popcorn. Also sprinkle in cardamom powder. Within one or two minutes, popcorn starts to soak up the syrup and comes together in to dry mass. Turn off the heat. Remove the pot from the stove top to counter top.Wait for about 5 minutes for popcorn-jaggery mixture to cool down and then start making laddus. Take a spoonful of mixture into hands and press gently into round shape.

Be Nourished!!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Whole Grains : Bulgur (NOT Cracked Wheat) Upma

Cracked Wheat and Bulgur

Confusing title! Ain't it? Well I guess Its not confusing if I say that ' Bulgur and cracked wheat are as different as me and my husband!!' Now I don't wanna grab 'poor' hubby dear in between while he has no clue, But I just want to emphasize the point that Bulgur is different from cracked wheat. Both are made from whole wheat, but the key attribute of traditional bulgur production is that the grain is parboiled (soaking, steaming,drying(usually by spreading in the sun) like the parboiled rice and then de-branned. On contrary to cracked wheat, which is made from crushed wheat grains which have NOT been parboiled. So why am I using Bulgur for cracked wheat in my upma recipe? Well its just a matter of choice...But may I propose to you a concept called 'phytic acid and gluten'. This is not some lecture on chemistry but a simple but important fact for us to know. All grains contain phytic acid(an organic acid in which phosphorus is bound)in the outer layer or bran. Untreated phytic acid can combine with calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and especially zinc in the intestinal tract and block their absorption. This is why diet high in whole grains may lead to serious mineral deficiencies and bone loss.The modern misguided practice of consuming large amounts of unprocessed bran often improves colon transit time at first but may lead to irritable bowel syndrome and, in long term many other adverse effects.On the other hand refined flours and grain products are devoid of nutrition.There is a fix again! so what to do? As always look back to the old ways. Our ancestors soaked, fermented, sprouted there grains. Like in idli, the rice & dal are soaked all day and fermented overnight. For pesarattu, the mung beans are soaked over night. For haleem, the cracked wheat and dals are soaked over night. And there are many more examples to follow. Soaking, fermenting, sprouting allows enzymes, lactobacilli and other helpful organisms to break down and neutralize phytic acid and encourages the production of numerous beneficial enzymes. The action of these enzymes also increase the amounts of many vitamins, especially B vitamins.Now what is gluten? Gluten is a protein in grains, very difficult to digest. Grains fall into two general categories. Those containing gluten such as oats, rye, barley and especially wheat, should not be consumed unless they have been soaked or fermented. Buckwheat rice and millet do not contain gluten and are easily digestible.So soaking, fermenting, sprouting will help break the gluten for the grains.
So now you see why I am preferring Bulgur for cracked wheat in my upma recipe. Bulgur is already soaked.Well you can use cracked wheat too, provided it is soaked overnight or for 7-8hrs. Now my patient readers might start fretting ;-) about the process involved in cooking. But let me assure you that all it takes is planning ahead of time. The world has become so fast paced that we eat on the go.But it is better if we slow down and ponder on whats going inside of us, because it does make a world of difference.

Bulgur or Cracked Wheat Upma:

Bulgur - 2 cups
Cracked Wheat - 2 cups soaked 7-8 hrs
Water - 4 cups
Onions - 1 medium
Green chillis - 2
Ginger Garlic paste - 1/2 tsp
For popu or tadka - 1 tsp each : urad dal, chana dal, cumin, mustard seeds, curry leaves
pinch of asafoetida.
coconut oil - 2 tbsp s (using coconut oil is a whole new article in itself. I would be covering that soon)
cilantro - 2 tsp finely chopped
lemon juice if needed for some tangy taste.

Bulgur upma

Because of the large size of the grain, roasting is not necessary.Take the oil in a pan, add popu ingredients in the order mentioned above.When mustard seeds start sputtering add onions, Green chilies.Saute them till tender and add ginger garlic paste.Add the water and bring it to boil. Now add bulgur and if adding soaked cracked wheat, then drain the water and add.Be careful not to wash it as the wheat is soaked, it makes it difficult to handle.Cook until water is evaporated. Keep stirring once in a while. Garnish with cilantro and serve warm with some lemon juice or a pickle.It has a nutty flavor with chewy texture. It was our Breakfast today.Bulgur is more costlier than cracked wheat. So I use bulgur when I am not planned and had to fix a quick meal, otherwise I soak cracked wheat for this recipe.

Be nourished!!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Whole Grains : Exotic Rice Blend

Clock wise: Brown rice, Wild rice, Parboiled rice, Red rice

Rice is the staple food for more than half of the humanity. Many cultures and civilizations are associated with rice. So significant of a grain, but is it nourishing our bodies? Coming from a state called as 'rice bowl of India', I grew up eating sona masoori rice my entire life. But recently ,If not late, I found an interesting fact about the rice I eat......It is just 'empty calories'. No nutrition whatsoever from that rice. I was surprised by the fact and did my research, I came up with some interesting facts:

1)Dehusked, unpolished rice grains(brown rice) are covered by the nutrient-rich bran and aleurone layers. Because these layers are rich in lipids they oxidizes rapidly when exposed to air, hence the grains turn rancid and untasty during storage.
2) Polishing, on the other hand, produces rice grains(white rice) devoid of the nutrients contained in the outer layers but not susceptible to changes in color, odor and taste.

Now this is a real fix!! If brown rice goes rancid and white rice is devoid of nutrition.......What is the the best alternative ? Shall we stop eating rice? I guess that is not an answer. Well there sets in the knowledge of our ancestors who knew it all and found an alternative ...Parboiled rice. Yes!! I am not kidding. What is parboiled rice? The three steps of parboiling – soaking, steaming and drying are generally achieved by soaking paddy in cold water for typically 24–48 h until the kernels are saturated. The soaked paddy is then boiled at c. 100 C for typically 1 h to obtain 80% gelatinized starch (Priestley, 1976a). The boiled paddy is sun-dried until the moisture content is reduced to c. 14%. Finally the dried grain is then milled.Parboiling rice drives nutrients, especially thiamine, from the bran into the grain, so that parboiled white rice is nutritionally similar to brown rice . Because of this, parboiling was adopted by North American rice growers in the early 20th century.The starches in parboiled rice become gelatinized, making it harder and glassier than other rice. Parboiled rice takes less time to cook, and the cooked rice is firmer and less sticky.
Now is there something like Indians (especially south Indians) over eating rice ? Well the answer is relative. There is always a factor called over indulgence. It would be beneficial if we include different grains in our diet.Try to eat different rice like red rice, brown rice, wild rice( not really rice) etc. often and replace white rice with parboiled rice.A research shows that Asians have larger pancreas and salivary glands in proportion to body weight than westerners, and these traits make us ideally suited to a grain-based diet.

Parboiled Rice - Usna chawal, Puzhungal arisi,Uppudu biyyam,Kusubalakki, Puzhangalari, Ubla hua chawal, Sidda chowl, Ukra chawl.

Exotic Rice Blend:

Exotic rice blend : Brown rice, Wild rice, Red rice

Long grain brown rice - 1/2 cup
Bhutanese red rice - 1/2 cup
Wild rice - 1/2 cup
water - 4 and 1/2 cups
a pinch of salt to taste.

Wash the rice, add water, cover and cook. It goes well with any curry. We just had it with ghee and vellulli karam for lunch today. Be Nourished!!!

Cooked Parboiled rice, Exotic rice blend

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Whole Grains : 'Staff of Life' for human survival

Yes! you guessed it right. Whole grains are my all time favorite food. I love anything prepared from whole grains. So I am pretty excited about my first post on whole grains. I am going to start a series on whole grains. Here you will see me going through different whole grains ~ recipes , method of preparation , nutrition facts etc.
What are whole grains ? Whole grains also called as cereal grains retain the bran and germ as well as the endosperm , in contrast to refined grains, which retain only the endosperm. Whole grains are rich in fiber, B vitamins, antioxidants, trace minerals etc. So we are losing all this valuable nutrition in refined grains and flours. Apart from that there are lots of downsides on refined grains and flours. So I encourage all of you to include whole grains in your diets as much as possible.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Welcome to Nourishing Indian Food blog!!!

Welcome to my blog...............Nourishing Indian Food - Cooking the Traditional way.

My blog is a humble attempt to share my experience in exploring and experimenting with the Traditional........age old way of Indian cooking( also involves some extent of other cuisines too). After reading and researching to some extent I came to a conclusion that " Old ways are the best ways". I truly believe that in this so called 'modern world', we have drifted away from the way our older generations nourished themselves. And the result is compromised health and vitality.
This blog is not necessarily a food blog with recipes but i would like to share information on different aspects of healthy eating. Join with me in this journey of healthy eating. You will notice a difference in my cooking techniques and the ingredients for the same old recipes. But the result is much healthier food with taste not compromising. I would also like to share different tips and home remedies. Feel free to leave a comment or suggestion. You can contact me at :