Naan Therapy

Or should it be 'paratha' therapy …

Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

I am a little sad

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Our pineapple guava tree died this winter. We had it for the last three years of its long life (judging by the rings, 40-50 at least). In its last few years, it put up with California’s once in a lifetime drought. It also saw a rapid recovery from drought the last two years.

Our tree was the highlight of the patio. It stood alone in rain.

It mingled with our guests when we had parties.

It stood by when a friend knit us a minion.

It gave us a season of fruit

It gave the bees couple of years of nectar (and many decades more when it wasn’t ours).

Our wee little fig tree, that our neighbor gave us when we moved in 3 years ago, is taller than me now. Cycle of life goes on.

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Written by Som

April 16, 2017 at 6:00 pm

Posted in Recipe

Charm of black walnut

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Eastern black walnut or American walnut, looks like darker version of walnut and that is where the similarity ends. These smell like forest floor after rain – earthy and spicy with a hint of blue cheese. Wild Black Walnuts are hand-foraged every fall in the Midwest and East-Central United States. Our neighborhood farmer’s market, Sigona’s, carries them in fall.

Pecan and black walnut mini tart

They did not feel right in the breakfast cereal. They were intriguing in the pecan/walnut tart. But  they blossomed  in a walnut pesto. Nowadays, recipes often define pesto as a combination of any herb and any nut. Walnuts, due to their strong flavor, pair well with parsley. Just replace some or all of the regular walnuts with black ones. It will elevate the commonplace “pasta with pesto” dish to a memorable one. And if you particularly wish to pat yourself on the back, combine with a robust wine like zinfandel.

Written by Som

March 26, 2017 at 5:01 pm

Posted in Recipe

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

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

Posted in Recipe

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

Posted in Recipe