Naan Therapy

Or should it be 'paratha' therapy …

Archive for the ‘Lactose Free’ 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.

Peethi ki Poori, lentil stuffed fried Indian bread

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Peethi ki poori served with potato curry

No pain, no gain. This is one of the more complex of Indian breakfasts that is better left to special occasions.

Peethi: Soak 1 cup dry Urad lentil, whole or broken with no husk, overnight, grind in a food processor so it is not a complete paste with no additional water. Add 2 green chilis, 1 tsp salt, roasted and crushed black peppercorn. In a heavy pan, heat 1 Tbsp of vegetable oil. Add a pinch of asafoetida and 1 tsp cumin seeds. Cook for 30-45 seconds until fragrant and add the processed lentil. Cook until the mass becomes sticky dough like. Let cool. This can be made upto a couple days in advance.

Potato curry: Peel and chop one large Idaho potato, in 1.5 inch cubes. In 1/4 cup water, add 1 tsp turmeric powder, 2 Tbsp sour yogurt and 2 Tbsp of tomato paste and make into a smooth paste. In a pressure cooker, heat 1 Tbsp oil. Add 2 whole red peppers, 1 tsp dry urad daal, 1 tsp mustard seeds, 1 tsp cumin seeds until they splutter and add the tomato-turmeric paste. Stir until fried and add the potato pieces. Stir to coat, add 1 tsp salt and add 2 cups of water. Pressure cook at medium for 5 minutes after the pressure builds up. Switch off and wait for pressure to subside. You can keep like this this for upto two days. When ready to eat, warm up, crush some of the potatoes with the back of your spoon, adjust for salt and add 2 Tbsp of chopped coriander leaves.

Poori dough: Take 2 cups of whole wheat flour, add 1 Tbsp vegetable oil, 1 tsp salt and necessary water to make into smooth dough. Let rest until ready to use. Heat oil for deep frying and maintain temperature while you roll out the poori’s.

Now get ready to put together the meal.
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Written by Som

July 14, 2013 at 5:31 pm

Nettles and eggs

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Following recipe serves two. Start with 2 packed cups of greens. In principle you can use a variety of greens including spinach or arugula but I chose nettles because that is what I had at hand. Wash and spin dry.

In your favorite omelet pan on which eggs don’t stick, add 1Tbsp butter and nettles. Sprinkle a pinch of salt. Cook until barely wilted. Break open four eggs, gently.

In a separate saucepan, clarify 1Tbsp butter and fry a pinch of ground spices (seeds of one green cardamom, 4 whole black pepper kernels, 2 allspice kernels). Add this to the cooked eggs and serve.

Written by Som

June 23, 2013 at 9:22 am

Posted in Californian, Cuisine, Food, Lactose Free, Recipe

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Eggs and toast – never had it this good …

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Eggs and toast

Following serves 2:
Soft boil couple of eggs, preferably from organically fed and farm raised hens.

Cut up two slices of fresh sourdough bread into thick cut french fry style pieces. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil on a pan and saute these bread slices until golden and crackle-y.

Crack open the top of your soft boiled egg, add some fleur de sel and freshly ground black pepper, dip the fried bread sticks in the yolk and enjoy.

Cup of espresso at the end with a slice of pannetoni is nice but not absolutely essential for a great start to the day.

Written by Som

November 20, 2011 at 11:50 am

Posted in Cuisine, Europe, Food, Lactose Free, Recipe, Savory

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Pimientos de Padrón with a touch of sesame oil and flower peppers

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Padrón peppers tossed with smoked salt and sichuan peppers

These Spanish peppers have caught on in San Francisco Bay Area. Last few years they were expensive and scarce at the farmer’s market, a small basket for $5. This year, our neighborhood Asian market has a large bag of these for $5. Last year, I fried these peppers in oil until blistery. This year, I got lazy and decided to push these under the broiler. Surprisingly enough, they came out at least as good as fried if not better.

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Written by Som

October 31, 2011 at 10:18 pm

Yet another Delhi street food

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This is one of the great street foods of Delhi – daal pakodas (fried lentil balls) served with grated radish and carrot and  topped with chutneys. Like a small plate of chaat, this is a multi-dimensional exploration of tastes and textures. The pakodas are crunchy and the lentil is tangy. The pakodas are neither too dense nor too fluffy and provides a nice bite. Grated radish and carrot adds a refreshing crispness. Horseradish overtones and bitterness of radish and sweetness of carrots adds to the dimensions of taste. Coriander/mint chutneys are savory, tart, and gingery. Tamarind chutneys bring the taste of molasses, and dates.

Home grown radishes

Frying lentil balls

Fried lentill pakodas

Add grated carrots and radishes

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Written by Som

August 21, 2011 at 5:12 pm

Desi style Okra fritters

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Following recipe serves two –

  • Start with a dozen tender okra. Wash and dry thoroughly.
  • Slit open with a paring knife and stuff a pinch of the following spice mixture – 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp amchoor (dry mango powder), 1 tsp anardana (dry pomegranate seeds), 1 tsp toasted and crushed cumin, 1 tsp red pepper powder
  • Prepare a thin cake like batter by mixing 1 cup of besan (bengal gram flour) or chickpea flour with sufficient water, a pinch of salt, 1/2 tsp cracked pepper, 1/2 tsp anardana, 1/2 tsp crushed coriander seeds, 1/2 tsp nigella seeds, 1/2 tsp turmeric powder, 1/2 tsp of red pepper powder/flakes
  • Prepare a mustard oil bath for frying – 1-2 cups depending on your fryer.
  • Heat mustard oil to smoking.
  • Coat the okra in batter, a few at a time, and fry until golden.
  • Drain on a paper towel and serve with chutney.

 

Stuffing Okra with spices

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Written by Som

August 11, 2011 at 2:51 pm

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

Open faced toasted sardine sandwich aka sardine tartine

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Sardine tartine

Sardine tartine

This sandwich is an inspiration from our trip to Paris.  Our neighborhood boasted of a wonderful restaurant that served various tartines for lunch. Buttered and toasted open faced Poilâne bread with sardine paste hasn’t been forgotten yet.

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Written by Som

February 13, 2011 at 7:33 pm

Desi style french toast

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Acme bread and egg with coriander, chopped green chillies, and shallots

Acme bread and egg with coriander, chopped green chillies, and shallots

Savory frech toast with Indian spices

Savory frech toast with Indian spices

I grew up eating desi style french toast. If we can improvise to create McAloo Tikki Burger, desi style french toast shouldn’t come as surprise. It is a savory version of the french toast with a touch of desi flavors.

Ingredients (serves 2):

  • 6-7 pieces of sliced baguette (3-4 cm across, 1/2 cm thick). Alternately use country style wheat bread.
  • 2 eggs (cage free, organic etc.)
  • Splash of lactose free 2% milk
  • 1 thai green chilli thinly sliced
  • 1 small shallot finely chopped
  • 2 tsp of coriander minced
  • 1/2 tsp of salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp sugar (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Shallots can be replaced with onion. If onion is sharp, soak chopped onion  in cold water for a couple of minutes before adding to eggs. Thai green chili can be replaced by de-seeded jalapeno if necessary. Addition of sugar makes this dish slightly sweet and mostly savory.

Beat the eggs, mix in milk, shallot, chilli pepper, coriander, salt and pepper. Soak 2-3 slices for about 2 minutes. Fry in 2 tsp of neutral oil such as canola and serve with ketchup or chutney.

All the goodness of french toast stays the same – creamy centers if using white bread or the chewiness if using country style wheat bread. The savory aspect of this is healthier. The ketchup adds to the umaminess. Every once in a while you will bite into a sliver of hot green chilli that will light a part of your mouth on fire – very invigorating in the morning. For a perfect breakfast, enjoy with a cup of hot chai.

Written by Som

August 19, 2010 at 7:22 am

Homegrown la ratte potatoes

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Freshly harvested la ratte potatoes

Freshly harvested la ratte potatoes

This year’s potato crop is a bit of a disappointment. We got La Ratte seed potatoes from Seed Savers Exchange but the yield hasn’t been very encouraging. Perhaps the unusually cool weather is the culprit.

Slow cooked la ratte (serves 2-3)

  • 40-50 of the small potatoes (~ 1/2 lb) scrubbed clean but skin on
  • 2 Tbsp of European style unsalted butter
  • Fleur de Sel or other flake salt to taste

Melt butter in an omelette pan. Cover and cook the potatoes on lowest setting for 20-25 minutes. Pick up the potatoes with a slotted spoon and serve hot with sprinkling of salt. Typically, fleur de sel is used in this quintessential french recipe but I didn’t have it handy. The flesh is buttery and nutty. I found the skin a little peppery. Fantastic with a glass of chilled white wine.

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Written by Som

August 13, 2010 at 10:50 pm

Guy Savoy’s Vegetable Gratin

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Vegetable Gratin

Vegetable Gratin

This is a vegetable gratin, similar to Thomas Keller’s ratatouille, except the bottom layer is that of melted onions – a sweeter and less umami version. I found some freshly harvested salad onions (spring onions with big white bulb) at the farmer’s market yesterday but you can use any onion. Thinly slice couple of large onions, toss with 1 Tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp red wine vinegar, a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar. Let rest while you heat the oven to 400 F. Put the onions in a large enough gratin dish such that the onions form a single layer. Cook for 20-25 minutes, turning the onions every 5 minutes. Let cool. You can fry the onions on stove top as well but I wanted to make a one pot dish.

Cut and layer vegetables (zucchini, eggplant and tomatoes) as in ratatouille dish. Brush top with vinaigrette and scatter thyme leaves. Bake in 250F oven for 1-1.5 hrs. If you are serving fresh made gratin, it is worth the effort to cut the vegetables thinly and brushing the top with olive oil every 30 minutes of baking. This allows the vegetables to become crisp.

Written by Som

August 10, 2010 at 7:29 am

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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Taquerias – where vegetarians fear to tread

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Little Mexico in Bay Area

Little Mexico in Bay Area

Middlefield Road in Redwood city, somewhere between 5th Avenue and Douglas street is a little Mexican island. Unlike neighboring Palo Alto and Menlo Park,  here there are no cute million dollar homes. Instead, the street is barren of trees and populated by run down yet colorful stores, taquerias, roach coaches and body shops. There is never a lot of crowd on the street and on hot summer afternoons, the emptiness against the stark background is noticeable. When you do see people, you see teenage mothers pushing babies in carts, dilapidated older women in bling, and groups of men standing around in grimy T-shirts, chatting and visually undressing all women walking by.

What brings me here? Yes, the tacos. A plate of tacos is a small meal – it costs practically nothing and can slide in between your normal meals with perfect ease. The salsas excite your tongue, the fresh corn tortillas arrive charred and soft and, the meats here don’t stop at perfectly done carnitas and pastor. You can get tongue, head cheeese, brain, cheek, and tripe too.

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Written by Som

August 4, 2010 at 10:57 pm

“You put Basil in ratatouille?”

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Guy Savoy's vegetable gratin

Guy Savoy's vegetable gratin

Fans of John Cleese’s “Fawlty Towers” will recognize this from the episode where Manuel thinks that the chef, Terry, has put his pet rat, Basil, in ratatouille.

My trials with ratatouille went from being mundane to fascinating after I watched the movie Ratatouille. The namesake dish in the movie is based on Thomas Keller’s ratatouille recipe and I was inspired to try it out. And it was love at first bite. Keller claims that his recipe is cleaned up version of “Imam Bayildi (Imam Fainted)”. Since then, I have read Guy Savoy, the renowned Parisian chef, claiming the same. In Bayildi, young Italian eggplants are stuffed with fried onions and cooked in a tomato pomegranate sauce – makes one swoon with delight if not faint altogether. I don’t quite see the connection between bayildi and ratatouille but I accept the wisdom of these great culinary giants.

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Written by Som

July 19, 2010 at 11:11 pm

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

Cardamoms and ginger – Biscotti and Chai

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Cardamom and ginger biscotti

Cardamom and ginger biscotti

Ginger and pistachio bits seen here - cardamom aroma whafts through the kitchen

Ginger and pistachio bits seen here - cardamom aroma whafts through the kitchen

Bright specks of green from the pistachios, chewy bits of candied ginger, heavenly aroma of cardamoms and the nutty taste of wheat – and no butter….. These biscotti go very well with coffee but if you want them Indian style, you must have them with chai.

Recipe for cardamom biscotti (makes 3-4 dozen):

  • 270 gm whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 70 g shelled pistachio
  • 70 g thinly sliced candied ginger (Trader Joe’s has an uncrystallized variety that is delicious)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp crushed cardamom seeds

Beat the eggs and sugar together, add the remaining ingredients until a sticky dough forms. Refrigerate for 30 minutes as this will help shaping. Make into two logs and bake in a 350 F oven for 30-35 minutes until golden brown on top. Cool for 10-15 minutes before cutting into thin slices about 1/4 inch thick. Bake further for 8-10 minutes without crowding. You may need to use more than one cookie sheet to accommodate all the biscotti. Let cool completely before storing.

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Written by Som

June 14, 2010 at 9:55 pm