Naan Therapy

Or should it be 'paratha' therapy …

Archive for the ‘Whole grain’ 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

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

Buckwheat tea cake

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Buckwheat tea cake

Buckwheat tea cake

Somewhere between lunch and dinner, I often find myself craving for a slice of cake and a cup of tea. Mostly I make do with a health bar. Some weekends, when all the chakras are in alignment, a cake is born in my kitchen. This one started out being yet another banana bread variation but the nutty taste of buckwheat overtook the tropical taste of banana. The end product was so moist and nutty that I decided to call it a tea cake, perhaps the best tea cake to come out of my kitchen.

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Written by Som

February 13, 2011 at 7:08 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

Pomegranate chocolate cake

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Pomegranate chocolate cake

Pomegranate chocolate cake

A variation of the sticky plummy chocolatey cake with pomegranate juice. Why pomegranate juice you say? A pixie whispered in my ears that pomegranate, plums and chocolate work well together. The original recipe, Clotilde mentioned, is from Ottolenghi’s cookbook and pomegranates grow happy in the Middle East.

Clotilde’s recipe asked for buttermilk and we made this for a friend who loves chocolate but is allergic to milk proteins.

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Written by Som

July 17, 2010 at 2:23 pm

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

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.

Flourless orange cake

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Flourless orange cake

Flourless orange cake

A cake made with poached orange and almond meal – with bits of ginger and lots of eggs. I think it was the unusual treatment of orange that got us going. Texturally, it is like a pudding with distinct taste of the nuts and orange. The cake took a trip with us through the Missions of California.

Recipe is from my favorite Parisian cook. Made without modification this time – although, a little less sugar and a little more ginger would have been fine. Took longer to bake in my oven.

Written by Som

June 1, 2010 at 7:56 am

Banana Walnut Madeleine

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Banana bread

This was inspired by banana pecan cake with maple glaze recipe from Clotilde.

Banana Walnut Madeleine (24 servings):

  • 40g walnuts, toasted and finely chopped
  • 140g whole wheat pastry flour (~1 cup unsifted)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 30g unsalted butter, softened (~2 Tbsp)
  • 40g  whole almond or walnut butter (fresh butter available from Whole Foods, ~ 2 scant Tbsp).
  • 50g brown sugar (~1/4 cup)
  • 20g maple syrup or honey (~1 Tbsp)
  • splash of vanilla extract
  • 2 small eggs
  • 2 extra ripe bananas, about 300g weighed with skin – peel, mash with fork

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Written by Som

December 13, 2009 at 12:20 am

Banana bread – be happy and healthy

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Chocolate buckwheat banana bread

Chocolate buckwheat banana bread

Growing up in India, soft ripe bananas usually translated to sweet and savory banana fritters. Now, they also end up in banana bread.

Yesterday, instead of the tried and tested banana bread recipe from Joy of Cooking, we decided to go for a new one. So, we substituted whole wheat pastry and buckwheat flour in David Lebovitz’s banana bread recipe, and added 1% homemade sour yogurt instead of sour cream.

Result: A dark, nutty and moist banana bread with only 120 calories per generous slice.

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Written by Sachin

October 18, 2009 at 11:59 pm

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

Pecan coffee cookies

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Pecan, Coffee, Butter...

Pecan, Coffee, Butter...

I am a fan of Heidi Swanson’s unusual combination of ingredients and textures. Original recipe for this cookie can be found here.

I did some variations. Like I chopped the pecans by hand instead of making a fine meal. Why? I like using a knife – a bit of blood, sweat and tears always makes the food taste better. Kidding!

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Written by Som

October 10, 2009 at 8:46 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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Is it bread or is it cake?

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Spice cake/bread

Spice cake/bread

Here is a link to a cake recipe that is not only great tasting but it not too bad for your arteries.

We have made it several times now with multiple variations and it turns out great every time.

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Written by Som

September 25, 2009 at 10:17 pm

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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Stuffed flatbread (paratha) to keep up with the modern times

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Cauliflowers

Cauliflowers

Traditional paratha is a flaky shallow fried bread the size of a tortilla – often stuffed with potatoes or ground meat and fried in clarified butter. In our modern times where the man (or woman) gets his (or her)  exercise from typing on a keypad or working the remote, paratha is a slow killer – first the expanding midsection, then diabetes, the clogged arteries and finally a failed heart.

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