Thursday, October 20, 2016

Meet our Desi Superhero … here comes A Flying Jatt!

If there is one thing that the human race will never stop believing, it is the victory of good over evil. It does not matter how many times the good guy takes a fall, he is the one to emerge as the winner at the end of it. Does not matter that he does it with an swag that cannot be described as human. Even by any stretch of imagination. That is unless one is a Superhero.

And Superheros are the stuff that our Hollywood and Bollywood movies are made of. The Flying Jatt is another fine example of a superhero movie that is played out in the backdrop of the environmental disaster that is looming large on the horizon. A thorough entertainer which includes the foot-tapping 'beat pe booty', I would never miss it for anything !

Here are the 10 reasons why I would be watching the film on Zee Cinema on 22 Oct@8PM -

1. India’s first flying Superhero :
India’s first flying superhero – A Flying Jatt saves the day in the coolest way. Bestowed not only with this incredible superpower our man can also display some jaw-dropping martial art moves. And not to forget that chiseled physique .

2. This Superhero has a Supermom :
Most of the superheroes that we know pledge to save the world and have lost their parents to an accident. But this super hero has a supermom who constantly reminds him of his duties. A typical Indian mother, she scolds him every time his reluctant to use his superpowers. She definitely is a supermom!

3. Powers + Killer dance moves = Legendary Superhero :
You might be Superman or Batman but one thing our flying Jatt wins at is killer dance moves. Saving the world and burning the dance floor all in one - WOW! Now that is what they call a superhero. Let’s shake our booty on the beat with this superhero.

4. The youngest Superhero :
Hrithik Roshan and Shah Rukh Khan also had special powers in movies like Krrish and Ra.One respectively. But what sets Tiger Shroff apart is his age. At 26, he bagged a superhero movie as his third film while the others have had a longer run in films before had a long career preceding their superhero ventures.

5. Jatt Fly Karda :
As the name suggests, Flying Jatt is all about a superhero who not only goes all out to save his city, but also believes in his prime religious duty of helping mankind. He is the first superhero who has incorporated his human and religious sensibilities in saving his city.

6. Accidental superhero :
Our very own superhero was not born with these powers but became a superhero by accident. A superhero at heart and and one who is courageous enough to fight despite being scared is what makes a ordinary man a true superhero.

7. Do your chores before you catch the ‘chors’ :
He is no ordinary superhero because at home, he has to do all the chores like any other child. From lending a helping hand in cleaning the house or buying vegetables, this superhero has to do it all. He might be a superhero for the world but at home, you have to do what your mother asks you to do. Now that is really cute !

8. A hero with a consciousness:
We all have to give back to our society and the Flying Jatt definitely believes in this.  A protector of mother nature and a condemner of pollution, this superhero does all to protect the environment.

9. A child at heart:
He might have a serious job at hand but he is a child at heart. This is what sets him apart making him a fun, relatable superhero. He has the superpowers but he also has a child in him who will touch your hearts.

10. He is coming to meet you soon:
This superhero has no airs about having special powers and is very down to earth and humble. So, he has decided to meet you and save his beloved city of Amritsar with the World Television Premiere of his film, A Flying Jatt on 22nd October, 2016 at 8PM.

Gondhoraj Lemonade with Chia seeds and Mint ( Diwali Collaboration)

As the festive season draws to a close, Diwali becomes the perfect excuse to indulge oneself in every possible way. Unfortunately, it is also the time when we pile on the calories and the resulting kilos. Suddenly that skinny pair of jeans that one picked up last month from a sale seems too tight and the love handles just don't go with the halter blouse that one had got stitched for a cousin's wedding. That leaves one with no option other than hitting the gym with renewed vigor and simultaneously praying for a miracle to melt all that lard in less than a fortnight's time.

Enough reason to revisit our eating habits for the festive season. And cut down of the consumption of high calorie foods. One of the key points to be considered while planning a menu is that the brain often confuses between hunger pangs and thirst signals. Hence while our body might just be craving for some liquid replenishment, one can end up mistaking it for hunger and end up stuffing oneself with food.

To reduce the chances of needless calorie consumption, it is important to keep oneself hydrated. And the best way to do it is by introducing a traditional drinks like shikanji, buttermilk and jal jeera in the Diwali menu. Most of them aid in digestion, replenish the water content of our body and also make us feel somewhat full. And in turn, we end up putting less on the plate.

Keeping this in mind, I prepared a lemonade with the famed Gondhoraj lemons which are found in West Bengal and North-East regions of India. These highly fragrant limes are a rather rare find in Bangalore but then I got lucky on a weekend trip to the vegetable market. I ended up adding some crushed mint (for digestion) and some chia seeds (for fiber) to the lemonade. It turned out quite refreshing, delicious and attractive. The soaked chia seeds settling down on the mint leaves make for a rather pretty sight.

And this being a Diwali Collaboration with my blogger friends Parinaaz ( A Dollop Of That ) and Saswati ( Delish Potpourri ), there are more drinks recipes to be discovered. (Just scroll down to the bottom of this page ! )

Read on for the recipe of 'Gondhoraj Lemonade' -

Preparation Time - 5 mins ( plus 40 mins soaking time )

Ingredients -
  • Juice of 1 Gondhoraj lime
  • 1 sprig of mint
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar syrup ( use Sugarfree Natura if you want to avoid calories/sugar )
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • 200 ml water
  • a pinch of salt (optional)

Preparation - Mix in the water, salt and sugar syrup in a jar.

Lightly crush the mint sprig and drop it into a tall glass.

Pour in the lemonade. Sprinkle the chia seeds on the top.

Put it in the fridge for 35-40 mins for chilling. The chia seeds will also get soaked in the meantime.

Remove from the fridge and serve.

Do check out these fabulous drink's by my fellow bloggers -

Parinaaz's Babri Beol Thresh


Saswati's Ice Creamy Gulkand Shake .

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Kadali Bhanda Bara (Plantain Flower Fritters with Oats)

'Ek muthi ka poshan' says my culinary God. And it sticks in my head. Jut like every other day, I go around like clockwork making breakfast and lunch for the family even as his words ricochet inside my skull. Without missing a beat, I pick up that packet of oats even as I take out the lentil jar from the cupboard. A small wok is put on the burner while I chop the vegetables. Two fistful of oats get slow roasted for 3 minutes as I carry on with my cooking. The vegetables are now being cooked and I am getting ready to knead the flour for making rotis. The roasted oats have cooled down and I give it a quick buzz to make a fine powder out of it.Three fourths of it go into my 'atta' while the rest is kept aside for lack of inspiration.

The lunch is almost ready and as I gather the ingredients for the final dish, a bulb suddenly lights up in my head. A teaspoon and half of the powdered oats make their way into the mix for my plantain flower fritters. I continue to make them the usual way, that is pan-fried with very less oil. And as every time they turn out to be delicious. Lesson learnt. Moral of the story is that it does not need to be path breaking all the time. As long as it gets the job done, it is perfectly fine.

So, here is the recipe inspired by Vikas Khanna and Quaker's #OatoberFest, a week long celebration of health and nutrition -

Preparation Time - 10 mins

Ingredients - 

  • 2 cups cleaned and chopped plantain flowers
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon Oats
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon besan
  • 1 tsp cornflour
  • 1/4 tsp red chili powder
  • a pinch of garam masala
  • salt to taste
  • 2 tsp oil for pan frying

Preparation - Add the chopped plantain flowers to a saucepan of boiling water for 5 mins. Drain and wash under running water to remove all bitterness.

Squeeze out all water before transferring to a mixing bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients along with very little water to get everything together.

Cooking - Drizzle a few drops of oil on a ceramic pan. Once it is hot, add small portions of the mixture to the pan and pat gently to spread into a layer which is about 2-3 mm thick.

Cook till done on one side. then flip it over and add some more oil.

Once cooked on both sides, remove from the pan.

Serve hot.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Plantain - The Gastronomical Wonder Ingredient of Odia cuisine!!

A thick shiny green trunk tinged with shades of brown and red. Large dark green older leaves, some of them fraying and yellowing at the edges. Light green ones emerging at the top, the newest one still rolled tight. Not a solitary sentinel, but one that thrives in a communal setting. No wonder, a plantain grove makes for an amazing sight !

If you happen to be one of the lucky ones who have had the opportunity to spend a few years in a small town, chances are that you might be used to having a small plantain thicket in the backyard along with the 'de rigueur' Tulsi plant. And there is a good reason behind omnipresence of this multi-utility plant ! From the green fruit to the ripe ones, the fibrous white stem to the purple-yellow flowers, even the peel of the green fruit is completely edible. But that is a not all. The glorious verdant leaves are considered to be a platter fit for the Gods and are actually rated higher than utensils made out of precious metals. Coming back to lesser beings like us, they multitask beautifully as the most aromatic wrap for desserts/savory dishes and as disposable plates for those sit-down lunches and dinners!

The widespread use of plantain in cooking lies in the numerous health benefits that it holds. All parts of the banana plant are high in fiber and hence beneficial for weight loss. The ripe fruit is an excellent source of carbohydrates and has a low glycemic index. People suffering from gastrointestinal disorders can benefit from the regular consumption of various parts of the banana plant.

Each of these above mentioned ingredients hold a special place in Odia cuisine. Be it the 'dalma', 'ghanta', 'santula' or even any of the mixed vegetable preparations, plantain is an integral ingredient of each one. These are some of the famous Odia recipes which showcase the various parts of the plantain plant -

1. Kadali Manja Raee ( Made from plantain stem ) - Rich in potassium and vitamin B6, it is touted as the traditional cure for a variety of ailments like kidney stones, constipation, gastric disorders, UTI and even diabetes.

While the juice is especially beneficial, it is good to include it as a vegetable 1-2 times in one's weekly diet.

This delicious preparation with minimal spices is one of the best ways to make it a part of your everyday menu.

2. Kadali Bhanda Raee ( made from plantain flower ) - It is most beneficial for women as it keeps the uterus in good condition. Consuming banana flower on a regular basis reduces free radical activity, prevents excess bleeding, alleviates the symptoms of PMS and also help in milk production among lactating women. Just like the stem, it is also rich in fiber and helps ease constipation .

Though it can also be consumed as a juice, it is best to eat the flowers to get the maximum benefits .

Cooking in the signature Odia style with mustard paste, garlic and chili, the delectable dish is sure to have to hooked on to this vegetable.

3. Kadali Chopa Patua ( made from the peels of green plantain ) - A rich source of potassium, the peels are supposed to contain higher amounts of soluble and insoluble dietary fiber. This part of the plantain is also rich in Trytophan, an amino-acid that increases the production of serotonin or the 'happy chemical' that improves one's mood.

Lutein, an important antioxidant present in the peel, is especially beneficial for eye health.

Making the best use of waste, save the peels for this yummy side dish when you cook green bananas the next time.

4. Kancha Kadali Bhaja ( made from green/raw plantain ) - The green banana is a good source of fiber, vitamins (mainly potassium), minerals and most importantly resistance starch which is known to reduce the risk of developing diabetes. Resistance starch helps lower the blood cholesterol levels and leaves one feeling full for a longer period of time.

Though it takes almost zero effort to prepare, this simple pan fried dish will make a convert out of most people.

5. Malpua ( made from ripe plantain ) - Considered to be the best among the lot, they have the highest concentration of antioxidants along with Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, potassium and fiber. They are touted to keep away a host of diseases like Alzheimer's, cancer, heart disorders, osteoarthritis, obesity, depression and even kidney stones.

For people who can't make do without desserts, this simple dish made out of overripe bananas is the prefect indulgence. To reduce the calories consumed, just pan fry the malpuas and drizzle with some sweetening agent like 'nolen gur' or even maple syrup.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

5 Fabulous 'Green' Desserts to Try This Diwali !!

Diwali is just a fortnight away and the preparations are in full swing. I am totally occupied with house cleaning, buying new furnishings, new clothes, putting the fairy lights in place and finally getting the ingredients for those delicious desserts that are the mainstay of this festival. For what is Diwali if not another grand excuse to indulge one's sweet tooth !!

But all Diwali sweets need not be calorie bombs ! Here are some fabulous green desserts that will have everyone asking for more even as the neighbors turn green with envy -

1. Green Papaya Laddoo -

Made from raw papaya and sweetened with Sugarfree, his amazing dessert won me the third position on Sanjeev Kapoor's Sugerfree Dessert Finale. So, it won't be wrong to say 'is dish me dum hai' !!

2. Creamy Spinach Granita -

Popeye's energy potion is loaded with antioxidants and other nutrients ! No wonder this superfood is on every health freak's kitchen counter. Though people swear by their Palak paneer or palak chicken, it makes for an equally mean granita !! Use brown sugar or demerara sugar instead of white sugar to add flavour to this fabulous dish .

3. Kiwi and Black Rice Pudding -

The exotic flavour of black rice combines with the tang of green kiwis to present a dessert that is visually striking !! However you need to taste it to experience the mind blowing flavours !

4. Paan and Gulkand Kheer -

Paan and Gulkand makes for the most unforgettable flavour combination ! Give it another twist by substituting the sugar with Demerara sugar !!

5. Vegan Mango Mousse -

With canned mangoes available around the year, you can try serving this yummy and healthy dessert to your guests ! One can also substitute mango with cocoa powder for creating another flavour .

Desi Kukuda Jholo ( Country Style Chicken Curry )

Ok. I am done with the ranting and raving. Accompanied with a generous amount of head smacking, banging my head on the walls and tearing out my hair, it has left me looking like something that has been dragged out of the dumpster by a bunch of notorious canines. After all, it is India and every stone you throw is bound to finds it mark on an obnoxious canine or an even more obnoxious chauvinist.

If I ever had any inkling of doubt about the total chauvinist leanings of our society , those have been effectively squashed by the Supreme court and Delhi High Court verdicts. 'Hindu son can divorce wife if she tries to separate him from aged parents' sermonizes the first one, only to be backed by an equally regressive and undoubtedly fawning subordinate which rules 'Denying sex to husband for long period ground for divorce'. If it had been a fair world, all these words like 'son', 'wife', 'husband', etc would have been ditched in favour of the all encompassing 'spouse', thus giving equal rights to both parties in a marriage.

Now some may cry hoarse that there are many women-centric laws and evil women use those to harass hapless in-laws. Some of them even get helpless men arrested on charges of rape, harassment, stalking and so on. But I have rarely come across any cases of 'groom burning' nor have I seen lascivious groups of women stalking/teasing the poor guys in bus stands, metro stations or even as they avail public transport. So, I do not care much about laws that protect the endangered male species. And with that I rest my case.

Coming back to business as usual ( do I even have a choice ? ), today's recipe is a simple but amazing Country style chicken curry from Odisha. Since country chicken has a texture that mimics mutton and also take quite longer to cook as compared to farmed 'broiler' chicken, it's preparation is similar to that of a mutton curry. It is pan cooked for a long time till the chicken gives up some juice and takes on a shiny texture. We called the process 'kasha' in Odia and that is usually the key to the final taste of the curry. Too less 'kasha' means that one can make out the rawness of the ingredients while too much 'kasha' gives a blackish color to the curry and changes the aroma for the worse.

Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 1 hour 20 mins

Ingredients -

250 gm country chicken (desi kukuda)
1 medium sized potato
1 large onion + 1/2 of a medium onion ( the chopped onion should be equal in volume to the mutton pieces )
1 1/2 tbsp coarse garlic paste
1 1/2 tbsp coarsely chopped ginger
3-4 dry red chillis
1 big cardamom
1 bay leaf
2 2" cinnamon sticks
1/4 tsp turmeric
salt to taste
6 tsp mustard oil + 1 tsp for the marination

Preparation - Wash the chicken pieces and drain away all the water. Add salt, turmeric and 1 tsp mustard oil. Mix well and keep aside.

Cut the onions into medium sized pieces. Crush lightly using a mortar and pestle. Keep aside.

Also crush the ginger and garlic in the same way but just a little more fine.

Cut the potatoes into big chunks.

Cooking - Heat the oil in a pressure cooker.

Add the potatoes and fry till golden brown. Remove and keep aside.

Add the red chillis followed by the cardamom, bay leaf and cinnamon sticks to the hot oil. Fry till they turn fragrant.

Add the onions, ginger and garlic. Fry them on low flame till they turn quite red in color. (This is a sign that the onions have started turning sweet due to the caramelization process)

Next add the chicken pieces. Fry them till they stop oozing water. You do not have to stir continuously. Keep the lid on the cooker without completely closing it. Stir once every few minutes. This process takes a long time so keep patience ( grab a snack/drink something if all that heavenly smell is making you hungry ).

Once you see that the chicken pieces start leaving oil ( a sure sign that the water had dried up ) and take on a shiny coat, add 1 1/2 - 2 cups of boiling water along with the fried potato pieces. Adjust salt. Close the lid and cook for 1-2 whistles. Remove from flame.

Allow steam to escape before opening lid. Check if the chicken is done. Else add another half cup water and cook for another 1 whistle or two.

Serve hot with rice/rotis.

Note - If you do not want to use pressure cooker, use a thick bottomed copper vessel for best results.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Raavan Bhaat ( Happy Dusshera )

It is Dusshera eve and the little voice in my head wants to have a free rein over my thoughts and potentially, any actions originating from them. Now this seemingly harmless voice has got me into trouble quite a few times in the past and hence I was not too keen to listen to it. And I guess neither would you if it keeps popping sacrilegious questions like 'Why do we celebrate the death of a devil who obviously died eons ago ( sometime during in the 'Treta Yug' ? Huh !! ). There are no written records about his life except for a few poetic accounts written by sages who might have been high on 'God-knows-what' substance.'

Or the pensive 'Was Ravan really so bad ?. The poor guy had only kidnapped another man's wife and taken her to another country. Something that can be effectively dealt under Section 360 and 365 of the Indian penal Code.'

Sometimes it borders on the outrageous. 'Where was the feminist lobby when Lakshman lopped off Srupanekha's nose ? For God's sake, she had merely indulged in some harmless adam-teasing !! In a country where women are burnt with acid, stabbed or even mowed down for repulsing the advances of certain men and these men then go scot-free, why was this 'khap'/'panchayat' style justice (or rather injustice) meted out to her. Should not they have demanded equal rights for women ? Or sat on a 'dharna' ?

By now you must have understood how dangerous this 'little voice' can become if not squashed in the nick of time. But as it happens more often than not, I ended up listening to it for a wee bit longer than advisable. No, it is not that I am being too soft. Rather it was the 'something' that it kept repeating. Strangely enough, it made a lot more sense than the other thoughts going around in my mind.

'Evil', as it told me, 'resides in each one of us. Each one of us is blessed those ten heads just like the much feared and sometimes revered demon'. And before I could counter it with a 'Whoa, you think I am bonkers ?', it quickly pointed out that the heads are merely symbolic. 'They stand for those ten traits that lead us to the path of evil and the subsequent downfall. Ego, attachment, anger, hatred, fear, jealousy, greed, lust, insensitivity and delusion, all of these ultimately corrupt a person. Hence it more sense for us to pledge to give up a bad habit on this day instead of thronging some overcrowded venue and participate in the burning of a effigy. It is just good money going up in bad smoke !!' it reasoned.

It does make sense, doesn't it ? Pick at least one bad habit that you have been planning to give up. Or, if you imagine yourself to be 'perfection personified' , just think about what has been making you unhappy or dissatisfied in the last couple of days. Once you are able to pinpoint the cause, I am sure you can trace it back to one of these ten evils and take corrective measures to get rid of it. It won't be easy but it will help you avoid bigger pitfalls in the long run.

The little voice has certainly redeemed itself to some extent. Maybe I will be more open to it when it pops around the corner the next time. But for now, let us come to this delicious recipe taken from Vikas Khanna's 'My Great Indian Cookbook'. Named after the demon for it supposedly prohibitive spice content, it is smoking hot, tangy and plain mind-blowing in every sense of the word. No wonder, I had to pair it with some chilled lassi to soothe my screaming palate.

Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 25 mins

Ingredients -
  • 3 cups cooked Rice (Basmati or any other fragrant variety)
  • 1 1/2 tsp tamarind juice ( as per taste )
  • 2 tsp powdered jaggery ( as per taste )
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2-3 pinch asafoetida
  • 2 sprig curry leaves
  • 2-3 dry red chili
  • 2 tsp oil
  • salt to taste
For the spice powder -
  • 2 tbsp channa dal
  • 2 tbsp urad dal
  • 1/4 cup peanuts
  • 2 tsp sesame seeds
  • 5-6 red chilis ( you can double the quantity if you can bear the heat )
  • 2 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1/2 tsp coriander seeds

Preparation - Dry roast all the ingredients for the spice powder till fragrant. Remove from flame and transfer into a blender jar. Grind into a fine powder.

Cooking - Heat a wok. Add the mustard seeds, asafoetida, red chillis and curry leaves. Once the seeds start spluttering, add the tamarind paste and powdered jaggery along with 1/2 cup warm water.

Let it boil and then the reduce flame to a simmer. Once it turns thick, add the cooked rice along with the powdered spice and salt to taste.

Toss gently to ensure that the spices get distributed evenly without ever breaking the grains.

Remove from the flame and serve .