Friday, 31 March 2017

Farali Buckwheat Upma - Spiced Buckwheat with vegetables #fastingfood #vratkakhana #healthyfastingfood

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Farali Buckwheat Upma is an easy to prepare with just a few ingredients, delicious and healthy dish that can be consumed during fasting season as well as on any other day. In this recipe, buckwheat groats are cooked with few nourishing vegetables, nuts and a delicious tempering with cumin seeds, green chillies and curry leaves and garnished with fresh chopped coriander.


Last year around Christmas time, I told myself that I will not 'feast or fast' in coming next year, but we end up thinking one thing and doing totally the opposite. Just after Christmas my dad passed away in India, one or the other reason I could not go to India to attend his funeral. According to Hindu mythology, family members should fast on Ekadashi (Sanskrit word for eleven, is an auspicious day which occurs twice in a Hindu calendar month), so I followed a ritual of fasting for five Ekadashi. I don't completely understand the reason behind this ritual, but I have a faith this kind of rituals were designed for the welfare of the common people, considering all physical, emotional etc aspects.  If my dad had known this, he wouldn't have approved this act by me, but I followed my heart and did this in my dad's memory.


So I decided to fast for five Ekadashi. Obviously when one observes Hindu fasting, they look forward to gorge on traditional, rich and calorie loaded farali food/vrat ka khana/fasting food. These are favourites of mine  Rajgira Panchratna Sheero ( Amaranth Pudding ), Buff Vada , farali Masala Puri and hugely popular amongst Gujaratis Potato and peanut Stirfry ( Suki Bhaji ). But this time I decided to fast on a healthy note, and believe me I did not crave for anything which is rich and not healthy. I did a bit of research on what type of vegetables I can add in my fasting recipes, as I did not want to use carb loaded ingredients like potatoes, cassava and sabudana ( tapioca or sago pearls ) and I successfully observed five days having peace of mind with healthy fasting food.



The first ingredient I chose to use was Buckwheat Groats, read here Why you should use Buckwheat and How to cook Buckwheat? The first recipe I created from Buckwheat, that was Farali Buckwheat Upma, filling and nourishing!

Upma is a south Indian delicacy, mostly prepared for breakfast and made with semolina and basic spices and herbs, also vegetables can be added to make for a healthier option. In my opinion, This buckwheat upma is a very very healthy option.

By the way, folks wishing you a very happy Chaitra  Navratri with healthy fasting.

Notes:-
A variety of vegetables can be used if not making for fasting, such as peas, corn, onion, mushroom or green beans.
Boiled potatoes or Suran - jimikand ( elephant foot yam ) can be used.

You will need:-

  • 1 cup cooked buckwheat groats 
  • 2-3 tbsp. oil 
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped vegetables such as carrots, capsicum, tomato 
  • 3-4 tbsp. cashew nuts
  • 1 tbsp. raisins or sultanas 
  • Salt to taste ( for fasting use sea salt )
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper powder
  • 1 tbsp. finely chopped green chillies and ginger 
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon juice 
  • 2 tbsp. fresh coriander leaves 
Method:-
Heat oil in a heavy base pan, add cumin seeds and let it splutter.
Add curry leaves, cashew and carrots.
Keep the heat low and cover the pan with the lid.
Cook the carrots for 4-5 minutes then add raisins, capsicum and tomato.
Let the vegetables cook for a couple of minutes.
Add green chilli and ginger, mix well.
Now add cooked buckwheat, add salt and black pepper.
Combine well, let the buckwheat cook for a couple of minutes.
Once done, add lemon juice then serve on a serving plate, garnish it with fresh coriander.
Enjoy with chilled plain natural yoghurt.





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Wednesday, 29 March 2017

How to cook Buckwheat ?

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How to cook Buckwheat? It's a child's play, trust me. Already the hardest part is done by you deciding to incorporate this incredible product in your cooking.

Like I said cooking buckwheat is a child's play, it's true.  Cooking buckwheat is not a time-consuming task and you don't need any special skills. Just boil water, add washed buckwheat and let it cook until nice and fluffy. If you prefer fluffy buckwheat, like rice then add little less water and tiny amounts of fat like oil, butter or ghee, for porridge consistency or mushy add 3-4 tbsp water more, I prefer to cook buckwheat without salt so I can use it in making sweet recipes too. Cooked buckwheat you can store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days.

Cooked buckwheat can be used in preparing healthy savoury and sweet dishes, stay tuned for recipes which I have prepared for every day and fasting seasons.

You will need:-

  • 1 cup raw or toasted buckwheat groats ( roasted buckwheat as known as Kasha )
  • 1 3/4 or 2 cups water 
  • 1/2 tsp. butter, oil or ghee ( if using ) 
  • Pinch Salt ( if using )


Method:-
If buckwheat groats are not toasted, you can dry roast on a skillet for 4-5 minutes.
Then rinse and drain buckwheat.
In a saucepan add 1 3/4 cup water, butter and salt and bring it to boil.
Add rinsed and drained buckwheat groats in boiling water.
Lower the heat, cover the pan with the lid and let it simmer for 15-20 minutes.
Keep checking water levels. If needed add a little water.
Once done, let it stand for a couple of minutes.
Enjoy !













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Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Why you should use Buckwheat ?

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I knew what was Buckwheat flour, in Hindi aka Kuttu Ka Aata and in Gujarati Kuttu No Daro, which I use to prepare Farali recipes but never came across Buckwheat Groats until I saw a small packet of Buckwheat in a health shop a few years back. I was intrigued, quickly checked nutritious value on the pack, without giving a second thought I bought Buckwheat and came home.

As soon as I reached home, I searched about Buckwheat on Google, I was amazed to read that how highly nourishing, energising Buckwheat is!  As I read on, I was getting excited to use Buckwheat, I thought that Buckwheat is right up my street.

No wonder Buckwheats are often called-superfood, They are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals with health benefits.

Buckwheat is not a grain, it is a fruit seed and not in any way related to wheat, therefore Indians use Buckwheat flour in making the fasting food. Buckwheat is full of high essential nutrients and gluten free. The nutrients in Buckwheat may help in controlling blood sugar levels and can help prevent diabetes, especially if Buckwheat groats are consumed.  Buckwheat improves health by lowering lowering cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Buckwheat provides a highly digestible protein containing eight amino acids, also help fight disease like Cancer.

I was impressed and pat my own back for buying such a wonderful product for my family. Next day, according to packet instructions, I cooked Buckwheat and used in one of the recipes, took us more than an hour to finish that dish, due to the stickiness of buckwheat or simply we weren't ready to accept new flavours and textures. Since that day I did not touch Buckwheat therefore not many recipes of Buckwheat on this blog,  however, I did include various kinds of super foods like quinoa, amaranth, bulgar wheat, farro, chia seeds, cacao nibs and much more.

After I joined Pinterest I saw many Buckwheat recipe pins, I felt like using it and once again I reintroduced Buckwheat to the family. Surprise surprise four of us are enjoying to the fullest almost 3-4 times in a week, stay tuned for some tasty and easy to prepare buckwheat recipes.

Buckwheat is becoming very popular for many good reasons amongst westerners, are you eating Buckwheat? If not, you may consider using it. Trust me you won't regret it !!









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Sunday, 26 March 2017

My Mother's Day getaway - Switzerland - part 1 #Zurich #Travelpost #swissadventure

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Last week I made some incredible memories and now I'm back to reality!

My early Mothers days consisted of a card and flowers (actually bought by my husband on behalf of my kids), a couple of years later, I'd be treated to breakfast in bed prepared by the kids. Fast-forward a couple of years and my they would buy me clothes/bath treats. And now that they have got older and understand me more, they gave me the ULTIMATE treat - a weekend getaway. And they couldn't have chosen a better destination.


Switzerland has always wooed me. As a child who grew up with Bollywood, I can speak for myself and many others, that visiting Switzerland was something out of a fairy tale. My dream came true once I got married, and I've been several times since. It's one of those countries that I can not describe to you in words or even pictures - you have to see it to believe it. Even this post is insufficient!

My kids know that I like to visit different places each time so, we went to a new part of Switzerland that we hadn't visited before - Zurich and Chur. For once, I didn't have to worry or make the arrangements on this trip, all was already planned and researched by my daughter.


On the first day we went to Zurich. We flew with British Airways from London Heathrow to Zurich Airport on an early morning flight lasting 1hr 40 minutes. Relaxing in the Business lounge made this early morning a lot more manageable.

Once we landed in Zurich, we bought ZurichCARDs which we could use on any mode of public transport unlimited for 24 hours. We then checked into our hotel and were ready to spend the day exploring the city!


We firstly took a train to Zurich HB (the main station) and then took a connecting train to Uetliberg - Zurich's own mountain. The journey uphill boasted wonderful views of the surrounding area. The final view from the peak was breath taking, offering panoramic views of the city of Zurich, Lake Zurich and the Alps.










We then came back down to the main station and walked along Bahnhofstrasse - a 1.2 km link between Central station and Burkliplatz and is one of the world's most expensive and exclusive shopping avenues (my daughter was in her element). We were charmed by the numerous water fountains where we could fill up our water bottles with crisp, cold water - I've always had a love affair with Swiss water.


Walking the stretch of Bahnhofstrasse led us to Lake Zurich. Sitting by Lake Zurich and soaking in the natural beauty of the water and the beautiful mountains was certainly a highlight. It was also definitely time for some ice cream ;)









My daughter, being a university student herself was keen to check out the Polyterrasse, a building between the ETH and the university. Even from here, there were beautiful views of Zurich all within a 3 minute ride on the red Polybahn Furnincular from Central.


We surprised ourselves with having a bit of spare time before dinner, so we hopped on and off the trams using our ZurichCARDs to check out Grossmunster Church (Zurich's landmark), Fraumunster Church and the historical Old Town.













We finally ended our day in Zurich with a memorable dinner at the Oldest Vegetarian restaurant in the world, the Hiltl. Review coming soon.


Zurich buzzed with life. In the day, the bustle of people hard at work demonstrated determination and discipline. As evening fell, almost all restaurants and bars were spilling over with young professionals catching up over a drink. To put it simply, in Zurich, you work hard and play hard.













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Sunday, 12 March 2017

Aloo aur Pyaz Ke Parathe - Stuffed Pan fried Indian Flatbread with Potato and Onion

Aloo aur Pyaz ke Paratha
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Aloo aur Pyaz ke parathe, delicious and sumptuous!  These whole wheat paratha stuffed with a filling of spiced mashed potato and sauteed onion worked wonderfully.

The raucous festival of colours HOLI is here, a celebration of vibrant spring, fertility and the triumph of good over evil. Wishing you all a very happy and safe Holi!


Stuffed Parathas filled with potatoes, are hugely popular in most of the Indian household, but for my dad, it was an exciting treat, especially on his birthday. He wouldn't ask for any special treat but only would request to have these humble aloo aur pyaz ke parathe! Today, is his birthday, if he was still with us today, this Aloo aur Pyaz ke Parathe would be at the top of his list. So today's recipe is dedicated to my dad!

In my parent's house and here in mine, we hardly eat potatoes so these Aloo ke Parathe always considered as a treat. This recipe belongs to my Dad, his recipe is with little variation. These stuffed parathas can be served alongside with curry, sabji or can be eaten with various kind of dips, chutneys, and yogurt.



To get perfect Aloo paratha, there are a couple of things you need to keep in mind.

Notes :-
Always make Aloo Paratha with floury potatoes like King Edward and Maris Piper.
Mash potatoes completely.
Let the stuffing completely cool.
Keep dough little softer side as stiff dough get cracks while rolling.
Roll paratha without any pressure, so the filling doesn't ooze out.

You will need: - For the Dough - outer layer

  • 2 cup chapatti flour ( I used wholemeal, that is why my parathas are in dark brown colour )
  • Pinch Salt
  • Pinch ajwain ( carom seeds )
  • Few drops oil
You will need: - For the stuffing 
  • 2 cup boiled, peeled and mashed potatoes 
  • 2 white onion cut lengthwise 
  • 2-3 tbsp. minced ginger and green chillies
  • 1 tsp. oil
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
  • Pinch hing 
  • Pinch turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice 
  • 3-4 tbsp fresh chopped coriander leaves 

Method : - Dough
In a wide plate ( Parat ) combine flour, salt and ajwain.
Add enough water and knead the softer pliable dough.
Rub oil, cover and leave it to rest for 15-20 minutes.

Method : - Stuffing
Heat oil in a non-stick pan, add cumin seeds, once it crackles add hing.
Add onion and saute till transparent, add minced ginger and chillies.
Cook for few seconds then add turmeric powder.
Quickly mix everything and add mashed potato and salt.
Stir well and cook for only couple of minutes.
Switch off the heat, add freshly ground black pepper, lemon juice and mix once again.
Take it out on a plate and let it cool completely.
Now add coriander, mix again and divide the stuffing into equal portions and keep it aside.

Method :- Paratha
Once you are ready to make paratha, divide the dough into equal portions and make balls.
Roll thin out one ball on a floured surface about 4-5" diameter.
Place a one stuffing bowl on a rolled dough.
Gather the sides and bring them together, once again make a ball.
Press gently the stuffed dough ball and roll once again on a floured surface.
Heat griddle or frying pan and cook both sides applying little oil till light golden.
Serve hot with any curry, chutney, dips, raita, lassi or tea.
This time I served mine with  Raw Mango, Red Chilli and garlic Dip and Green Chutney.















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Saturday, 11 March 2017

Raw Mango, Red Chilli and Garlic Dip - Kachi Keri, Lal Mirch and Lasan Chutney

Raw mango, Red Chilli and Garlic Dip
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Raw Mango, Red Chilli and Garlic Dip is a fier, utterly delicious and ridiculously easy to prepare. Almost as easy as opening a jar. This dip comes together easily with just a few ingredients in less than 10 minutes.


This spicy, tangy and tantalising dip is remarkably versatile. Use it as a spread on sandwiches or burgers, can be relished with paratha, Thepla or simply dip your snacks into it. This version is so good that it deserves a spotlight of its own.


If you can get hold of raw mango, do not miss the opportunity to make this lip-smacking dip. You can alter the spice by going easy on the red chillies. You will absolutely fall in love with its finger-licking flavours!

Notes :-
If you have time use dry red chillies instead of red chilli powder. Soak them in warm water for half an hour.

You will need:-

  • 1 cup raw mango peeled and cubed
  • 4-5 tbsp. red chilli powder ( use less if you can't tolerate spicy food )
  • 5-6 fat garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp. cumin seeds
  • 2-3 tbsp. Jaggery ( more or less )
  • Salt to taste 
  • 1/4 cup water

Method :-

Place everything in a blender, add a little water and blend everything, add more water if needed.
Blend till you get a smooth dip.
Serve.














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