Naan Therapy

Or should it be 'paratha' therapy …

Archive for the ‘High Fiber’ Category

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.

Quest for a guilt free paratha …

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I have been on a quest for guilt free parathas for many years now. I thought I had it with my pea paratha but I stand corrected. A recent culinary experiment made me realize that an even better filling is edamame. Comparing shelled and frozen edamame to shelled and frozen peas, here is the nutritional breakdown:

Edamame 100 gm

  • Calories 160 kcal
  • Total fat 6.7 gm
  • Total carb 13 gm
  • Dietary fiber 6.7 gm (effective carb = 6.3 gm)
  • Protein 17.3 gm
Peas 100 gm

  • Calories 107 kcal
  • Total fat 6 gm
  • Total carb 20 gm
  • Dietary fiber 4.8 gm (effective carb = 15.2 gm)
  • Protein 4.8 gm

Edamame does bring its characteristic nutty flavor to the paratha. If you have a good hand with rolling the paratha with coarse filling, you can finely chop the thawed kernels and mix with necessary spices. They have lower water content compared to frozen peas and therefore don’t really need any pre-cooking.

Don’t let my culinary excursions make you forget what parathas are supposed to be like. Here is a recent article from Odd Ends discussing ghee fried parathas from Old Delhi’s Parathe wali Gali. Maybe for every year of eating healthy paratha, one can indulge in a bite of the ghee fried one.

Written by Som

July 31, 2011 at 6:27 pm

Chilke ki roti – Vintage punjabi cuisine

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Chilke (husk) ki roti

This recipe is from my grandmother’s generation that believed in the motto “waste not want not” and uses the husk of lentils to lighten up the traditional roti. Following recipe serves two.

Preparing the lentil: Take a cup of green mung bean (split or whole). Rinse the beans and soak overnight. If using whole beans, prepare for the beans to sprout and let the bean sprout for a day or so which eases removal of husk. When the beans are ready, place the lentils in a large container and fill with water. Gently rub the lentils to loosen the skin. Collect up the skin that floats to the top. Squeeze the skin to drain all water and set aside. If making daal from the washed and de-skinned lentil, click here for one particular recipe. The sprouts can be served as a simple salad when mixed with salt, pepper and lime juice.

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Written by Som

July 6, 2011 at 11:47 am

Black rice pudding

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Black rice pudding with coconut milk and garnished with tapioca pearls, Green Goddess, New Orleans

Black rice pudding with coconut milk and garnished with tapioca pearls, Green Goddess, New Orleans

Yesterday, an energetic re-organization of my pantry reminded me that I have been aging Burmese black rice for at least an year. The rice itself was bought from a local branch of Whole Foods. I had also snagged myself Steen’s Cane Syrup during a recent trip to New Orleans. The two came together in a quick lactose free pudding last evening.

Pressure cook on low 1/4 cup of black rice, a pinch of salt with 2 cups of milk (2% lactose free or almond milk) for 1 hour. Add more milk to achieve desired consistency, add cane syrup to taste, perhaps a few spoonfuls of raisins and nuts and serve at room temperature.

Written by Som

April 7, 2011 at 6:54 am

One thousand and one nights: Lentil soup recipe

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Chana daal

Chana daal

Why 1001 nights? I reckon there are at least that many lentil soup recipes. I am adding mine to the mix.

Why is this special? Aside from the fact that I am not an impartial judge, this one has a variety of textures and flavors that are noticeably distinct but combine to form a wonderfully aromatic and light soup.

Key ingredients? Fresh pickled ginger, finely chopped pickled lime, slow roasted garlic, …

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Written by Som

October 4, 2010 at 6:00 pm

Texas BBQ in San Francisco

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Brisket from Snow's BBQ

Brisket from Snow's BBQ

We figured that getting barbecue flown from Texas to California would be significantly cheaper than flying us from California to Texas. Voted the best BBQ by Texas Monthly Magazine in 2008 and written about in New Yorker, Snow’s BBQ, has been on our radar for a little over an year. We decided to get their customer favorite slow cooked brisket.

The 5-6 lb brisket arrived perfectly frozen with heating instructions and a bottle of their sauce. The very first thing I did was to thaw it partially, divide the meat into meal size portions and wrap each portion separately to store. Top flight barbecue is so rare in the Bay Area that this treat needed careful planning to get the last bit of chewy, meaty enjoyment from it. For the first batch, I followed heating instructions to the letter. But then proceeded to use my own technique. First I brought the meat to room temperature, and trimmed the fatty bits at the edges. I froze these bits for a use that I will get to later. I brushed the meat liberally with the sauce and broiled it briefly until a light glistening crust formed. And voilà, it was ready to eat.

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Calcutta street to California home – Kathi rolls unwrapped

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Home made Kathi rolls

Home made Kathi rolls

After eating Kathi rolls at Kasa, I was inspired to make this quintessential Calcutta street food at home.  When you take on such a formidable challenge, you know you are not going to win. There is nothing I can do in my California kitchen that will replicate the experience of eating outdoors at one of Calcutta’s busiest streets. Neither can I hope to replicate the rich interplay between textures and flavors that the street vendors have mastered. When my father’s generation talks about eating out during their college days, they often reminisce about these mouthwatering rolls!

So what can I hope to achieve? I can definitely beat Kasa. I can make mine with healthy, fresh, organic ingredients, mindful of the calories and the nutritional balance. I can bring my experience with modern techniques to traditional Indian cuisine to create something healthy while preserving the authenticity of tastes and flavors.

There are several key aspects to a perfect roll – the paratha, the kabab and the chutney.  These ingredients need to come together in a timely manner. The container that wraps the kababs, paratha, should be chewy and flaky. The filling itself, kabab, should be charred and juicy. The condiment, chutney, should create a taste explosion in your mouth.

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Written by Som

June 26, 2010 at 10:45 am

Heart healthy breakfast bars

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Banana-chocolate bar

Banana-chocolate bar

I am sick of store bought bars – I don’t know what it is about them that makes them repulsive after one bite. So, I have been asking my husband to experiment with home made bars. The first one  he made was David’s fruitcake bar with a minor modification – an added teaspoon of fennel seeds. It turned out delicious of course, perhaps a little crumblier than a breakfast bar and a little sweeter, but delicious all the same.

The next one he attempted was Clotilde’s banana chocolate breakfast bars. This turned out great as well. For some reason, we always seem to have overripe bananas at hand, so we have made the banana bar a few times already. The recipe is highly tweakable and easy to make. In fact we put together the last batch at the end of a 14 hr long work day! The basic idea behind these banana bars is to make a matrix of solids – oatmeal, coconut, chocolate chips and nut flakes, then make a gooey mix by adding in the wet components –  mashed ripe banana. In the last batch, we added a dollop of chestnut puree. Yum! To avoid the bars from drying out, I wrap individual size portions in stretch plastic and store in airtight container in the fridge. It makes them easy to carry to work for breakfast or snack.

Meal replacement cookies

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Bean cookies

Bean cookies

Maybe I should have done a calorie analysis beforehand,  the name itself should have provided that hint. We made smaller cookies than Heidi recommended and got 34 cookies from her recipe. Each one  is about 100 calories; Heidi’s would be 200 per cookie. Now I know why she calls them marathon cookies. The original recipe can be found here.

This has an interesting array of cookie ingredients – white kidney beans, dates, sesame seeds, and aniseed.

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Written by Som

October 12, 2009 at 9:19 pm

Tasty oatmeal – morning dessert

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Breakfast oatmeal served with caramelized figs, toasted walnuts and homemade orange marmalade

Breakfast oatmeal served with caramelized figs, toasted walnuts and homemade orange marmalade

I decided to give oatmeal a try after watching Alton Brown.

Before steel cut oatmeal became part of my daily diet, I had  unsuccessfully tried several instant oatmeal versions. The steel cut variety is actually tasty. The grains are bigger resulting in chewier texture and the flavor is distinctly nuttier. Here is my dessert like version that is tastier than AB’s.

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Best way to eat peas

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Puffed flatbread, stuffed with spiced peas, ready to eat

Puffed flatbread, stuffed with spiced peas, ready to eat

Flatbread stuffed with peas (matar paratha) is a wholesome meal. If made correctly, it can provide protein and sufficient fiber while being low on fats and simple carbohydrates. Traditional way of making this flatbread is too heavy on fats and simple carbohydrates. But this variation, like the cauliflower stuffed flatbread, is a new way of cooking and is heart healthy – only 1 Tbsp oil and a full 20 gm of fiber per serving.

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