Naan Therapy

Or should it be 'paratha' therapy …

Archive for the ‘Vegetarian’ Category

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.

Coconut filled rice crepes, a Bengali delicacy

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Pati Shaptar Pithe/Pitha or coconut filled rice crepes. Pati means a mat, and shapta means simple in Bengali.

Grate raw coconut (or get frozen unsweetened grated coconut and thaw), about two cups, add sugar to taste and stir fry until golden brown. If you wish, you can add a tablespoon of raisins and a tablespoon of toasted and chopped cashew nuts or slivered almonds.

Pitha comes in various shapes. These are the simplest. To prepare the crepe batter, to a cup of rice flour, add a pinch of salt, and a tablespoon of sugar. Add milk, 2% or full fat preferably, until the batter consistency is like crepe. Heat up a non-stick pan. If needed, you can wipe it down with a buttered cloth/brush. Follow cooking temperature regimen for a crepe.

Pour about 1/4 cup of batter and roll it around on the hot pan to form a thin crepe.

As the crepe cooks, it starts to lift off the edges.

Add two tablespoons of filling. Optionally, form the filling in the palm of your hand in shape of a small spheroid.

Roll in form of a fat cigar.

Keep aside while you prepare the rest. These can be eaten warm or at room temperature. To take them to the next level (i.e. not simple), you can bake them in condensed milk as well but they do become heavy. Drizzling some condensed milk on top while not traditional can be an excellent substitute.

During this trip to India, I am seeing some new sweets in Bengal including baked rasogolla (boiled cheese balls dunked in sugar syrup) , Kolkata’s famous sweet and chana pora (literal translation for roasted cheese), a dish very similar to cheese cake.

Written by Som

November 21, 2014 at 6:16 am

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

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

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