Naan Therapy

Or should it be 'paratha' therapy …

Popped lotus seeds

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Puffed lotus seed have been part of Indian snack scene for as long as I can recall.I recently found this product at neighborhood market, Sigona’s. They are made here, right in Palo Alto! These have a little clarified butter, a touch of salt and a hint of heat. The entire 1 oz content is 130 calories. They are more substantial than rice puffs, very unlike popcorn, mostly crunchy and a little chewy. Closest in texture is perhaps pork rind Chicharrón. They do not appear to have a strong taste of their own, essentially picking up the added flavors. You can get these puffed and unflavored lotus seeds in Indian grocery stores but they often smell rancid. If you can find good quality unflavored version, then just toss them in hot butter, salt and perhaps some pepper, chili powder or lime. Enjoy with chai or beer.

Written by Som

October 9, 2016 at 4:26 pm

Sprouted spelt bread for your nearly gluten free life

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At a recent microbiome conference, I learned something that has changed my diet around. Scientists have known for a while now that there is a close link between gut bacteria and our diet. And by not eating certain food groups, i.e., reducing the variety of food in our diet, we make the gut microbiome ecosystem worse. When we go gluten free or low FODMAP diet, we also take out whole wheat from our diet which can potentially lead to significant reduction in variety of food consumed. So if one can re-introduce whole wheat back in the diet, without increasing gluten content, it might make the microbiome in our guts fitter.

Oh, who am I kidding. I want a good gluten free bread to go with my soft boiled eggs in the morning and I am sick of paying $6.99 for a loaf a bread.

Looking through Monash University’s gluten analysis, I  had further learned that spelt has less gluten that modern wheat. And sourdough bread made with spelt is nearly gluten free. This got me thinking – while sourdough is not something I wanted to invest time and energy in, what if I could make raised loaf with sprouted wheat? I had also accidentally tumbled on a sprouted spelt flour from the excellent One Degree Organics folks (God bless them!). And in my other experimentation, I had found that sprouting made it easier to digest  legumes. So, putting two plus two together, I hypothesized that if I could make a loaf from sprouted spelt, I would have a happier gut.

Easier hypothesized than done, the real challenge is in the art of making bread from whole wheat. I consider Acme’s whole wheat bread to be the standard of bread making. And I had tried  Bittman’s no knead recipe and failed every time – the bread would  turn out wet inside. Some further research into no knead bread, led to this smithsonian article that  stirred a new hope. Just one  bake later, I knew I had tumbled on the right recipe.

Since then I have made this bread recipe a few times. The bread turns our airy, it is chewy and moist without being wet, and most definitely not dry or crumbly. And it is significantly better than my current commercial favorite, Whole Foods prairie bread. And best of all, my stomach is happy. And my soft boiled eggs have  a perfect companion.

Cross section of sprouted spelt bread using no-knead style

With my one degree organics sprouted spelt flour, I use  16 oz flour, 16 oz water, 2tsp salt, a tiny pinch of fast raising yeast (1/8th tsp), and I let the mixture rise overnight. So far, I have tried making loaf. I follow the temperature to the tee – 520F for  15 minutes, lowering to 470F for 20 and final 15 minutes with oven slighted open (at 470F).

Loaf from sprouted spelt flour

There is a  problem to be solved still. The dough is so wet that it is unclear how to make slits on top. The bread is splitting along the side in this case.

Addendum: Every gut is special. Please experiment with the amount you can handle. I have a very sensitive gut and it is perfectly happy with 1/8th slice of loaf made with 16 oz flour.

Home made gluten free flour for Indian style breads

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Every time mother visits from India, I turn her skills to experimentation of some sort. Current ongoing one is on home made gluten free flours that are perfect for desi style rotis and parathas. I am frankly sick and tired of what you get off the shelf for gluten free flours, they are too starchy and too white.

Here are a few combinations that have worked i.e. they deliver healthy balance of proteins and fibers, result in decent binding and tastes good.  These blends don’t necessarily look pretty…and need a little oil….and Bob’s Mills flours are definitely not cheap….and if you are gluten sensitive, you have probably accepted that life is collection of compromises.

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Written by Som

August 24, 2015 at 7:43 pm

La Viga, a Latin American eatery in Redwood City

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La Viga is a Latin American eatery, somewhat setback from the heart of Redwood City downtown. In case you didn’t know Redwood City (RWC), it is the city with “Climate Best by Government Test”. As a Bay Area resident, I can attest to the fact that it is one of the prettier of San Francisco Bay Area cities but I am still questioning the climate after an year of living in this city. Normally, if you are craving tasty tacos you will be eating at one of the many taquerias along the Middlefield where the best tacos in Bay Area are to be found. But if you want a nice sit down place (shared tables) with a more vibrant ambiance, La Viga it is.

Ostiones Frescos: Raw oysters served with lime sauce.

Camarones Al Coco; A mildly sweet dish of crispy coconut crusted prawns with sweet habanero sauce.

Tacos de Carne: braised pork w/ pickled onions and habanero sauce, flap meat, cactus salsa

Tostadas de Salpicon: shrimp, snapper and crab salad mix, with avacado, jalapeno aioli on tostadas

Pulpos Salteados – sautéed octopus and calamari, baby potatoes, rocoto chile, fennel in a flavorful saffron sauce.

If I had to pick a favourite, it had to be the Oysters on the Half Shell (I am partial to taste of sea) and Pulpos Salteodos. Latter reminded me of Nikkei cuisine from Barcelona’s Pakta.

Written by Som

August 15, 2015 at 9:29 am

Squash blossom pesto

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In Bengal, these blossoms are made into a paste, typically with mortar and pestle, with freshly grated coconut, green chillies, and mustard paste and eaten with hot white rice.

I made a pesto of lightly stir fried blossoms and goat cheese. Unfortunately, the flavor of the blossoms were overwhelmed by that of the goat cheese. Not what I would call a successful deployment of blossoms even though the pesto itself tasted great. Back to the drawing board.

Written by Som

July 11, 2015 at 6:51 pm

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Idli Dosa at Madurai Idli Kadai

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Paper dosa – crispy, tangy with fresh chutney accompaniments.

Tiny place, long queues and fresh food. Probably the nicest idli in Bay Area.

Written by Som

May 25, 2015 at 2:43 pm

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Be happy, bee happy

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A shrub that can grow as tall as a tree. Full of pink flowers during early spring and attracts bees.

Written by Som

May 25, 2015 at 2:27 pm

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