Tuesday, November 22, 2016

A Spoonful of Immunity: Turmeric Amla Pickle

" Aah! You can feel the healing goodness travel through your entire being," exclaimed Mads Masi with every bite. That definitely had my attention. I backtracked to the table to get better acquainted with this health bomb I had missed. Never would I have guessed that the bowl of blinding sunshine I had dismissed as just another chutney was the reason for the health hallelujah! 
Turmeric and Amla Pickle. Yet another ingenious method Nani had devised to sneak immunity into our daily food. And its no grandma's tale, really. Science has backed the benefits of the Indian gooseberry for years. And turmeric of course, is already hailed as the super-food of 2016.

Turmeric has proven anti-inflammatory properties. It has been known to reduce the risk of cancer, normalize insulin levels, banish aches and arthritic pain, promote healthy digestion and boost brain function. Now, I could list all the proven benefits in detail, or you could just read them here and here.
As for Amla , the humble and much ignored Indian Gooseberry is loaded with Vitamin C making it ideal to stave off those pesky coughs and colds. The high iron content is great for combating anemia and getting that gorgeous glow. It is also a known agent for stabilizing blood sugar, promoting heart health and also the high fiber content means bye bye constipation.
On their own turmeric and amla are a little strong to munch. But toss them together in this super healthy and you will have the entire family lining up to get their daily dose. Bursting with freshness and flavour, who would have thought great health came in such chatpata form!
And yes, Mads Masi was right! You can truly feel the healing goodness travel through your entire being!

Raw Turmeric Root        250 gm
Amla                              250 gm
Lemons                          3
Kala Namak                  to taste
Sugar                             3 teaspoon
Oil                                 2 tablespoon
Asafoetida                     a pinch
Red chilli powder          1/4 teaspoon

Grate the turmeric and amla as finely or coarsely as you like. Toss in the sugar and kala namak or black rock salt. Squeeze the juice of the lemons on top and mix well. Heat the oil in a small pan till it starts smoking. Add the asafoetida and turn off the heat. Let the oil cool a little and then add the red chilli powder to it. Once the oil is completely cool, mix in with the rest of the ingredients. Spoon into  a sterilized bottle and let it rest in the fridge. After three days, the pickle is ready to eat. It keeps well for a month if refrigerated. Just a spoonful with your lunch and let the pickle work its magic!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Cheese Straws

I was not a skinny child. Far from it really. The culprit though was Mum. She is an amazing cook and kept me interested in food by dishing out a wide variety of delicious home cooked food. An expert of most cuisines, her passion lay with baking. It was no coincidence then that I always had a tempting array of cakes, cookies and crackers to snack on. Even the extra miles Dad made me run weren't enough to dent the sunshine of Mum's baking! 
One of my favorite things to munch on were these twisted golden delights. Cheese straws! Aahh! The very name was enough for my tastebuds to conjure the crisp-buttery-melt-in-the-mouth-cheesiness. Every batch Mum baked would disappear in minutes, even as the melted cheese scalded my tongue. I never could wait for them to cool down! 
Its not just me, but Hubby darling as well. The first time I made them, he insisted that these Cheese Straws become a pantry staple. And they do have to make an appearance at every party I host. Served plain in bowls or with a choice of dips, these go down fabulously with kids and adults alike. And when you snuggle with a book and hot tea on those wintry afternoons, these little twists will keep you good company! And when you run out, they are easy enough to bake on demand :) 

Cheese          50 gms
Butter           50 gms
Flour            1 cup
Salt              1/2 teaspoon
Milk             1/2 cup
Pepper          1/2 teaspoon
Oregano       1/2 teaspoon (optional)

Method: Sift the flour and salt together. Grate the butter and cheese into the flour and mix lightly. Adding a little milk at a time, mix it into a smooth dough. Do not knead. Divide and flatten into two halves. Cover with clingfilm and freeze for an hour. Unwrap and roll out  to a thickness of 1 cm. Like a thick roti. Sprinkle with the pepper and oregano. Cut into strips and twist. Preheat the oven to 180 C and bake for 15 minutes till crisp. You can vary the flavours by experimenting with the herbs you sprinkle on top. And do try to wait for them to cool before you take that first bite!