Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Citrus corn and peas salad - Spring's here!

I know, I know! It's only January and Spring seems far away. But it can't be far behind. And this is a salad or side dish that is sure to perk you up even if there is a raging blizzard outside. It will taste best using fresh English peas and fresh corn on the cob, but you can get away with using frozen stuff too. The star ingredient here is probably the dressing, which is made with fresh squeezed orange juice. Curry powder adds a hint of spice and exotic flavor. This salad is fat free so you can indulge in it upto your heart's content.

The recipe is as follows -

Ingredients -

2 cups green peas

2 cups corn kernels

1 tsp crushed garlic

1 orange juiced

1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

1 tsp curry powder

1 tsp black pepper

1/2 cup orange segments or pulp

salt to taste

Method -

1) If you are using fresh peas or corn, you will need to blanch them first. Boil a pot of water and dunk the peas/corn in the boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain and set aside.

2) Prepare the dressing - Squeeze the orange along with the pulp, mix in lemon/lime juice. Add the salt, pepper and curry powder and crushed garlic. Whisk this and add to the corn and peas.

3) Depending on how juicy your orange is, you may add more orange juice if needed. This salad gets tastier with time.

4) Refrigerate at least overnight for the flavors to develop. Serve as a side dish, or use as filling for sandwiches or wraps.

This is a healthy treat you can indulge in. The citrus dressing takes the ordinary corn and peas to a whole new level. If you love the orange element here, be sure to try my Orange couscous salad.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Fat free Stuffed Peppers - Stuffed Shimla Mirch

Hello and wish you all a very Happy New Year. The New Year generally ends a long period of indulgence that starts with Diwali and ends with Christmas. After so much revelry, most of us are tired of eating the heavy food but are also somewhat addicted to it. The New year is always the time for resolutions to stay on plan, eat healthy etc., and whether you follow it for a long term or not, you definitely end up eating some less calories, which can only be good for you.

One way of reducing a lot of calories from your food is fat free cooking. Some plans such as Eat to Live and McDougall advocate cutting out oil and fats from your diets altogether ( ETL does allow you some nuts and seeds daily). I have bought some books on 'zero oil' cooking from chefs such as Tarla Dalal and Sanjeev Kapoor, but I found that they substituted oil with skim milk or nuts often times. True fat free cooking should have none of the sources of fat. I am not a nutritionist, and not qualified to give anyone advice. So it is up to you if you eat 100% fat free, or eat one dish fat free. You are definitely eating something healthy compared to before.

Stuffed capsicum or stuffed bell peppers have been a favorite in our family for several years. Please do not confuse them with the jumbo peppers stuffed with meat/rice and baked in an oven. This is a purely Indian dish that is generally stir fried in a wok. Potatoes are boiled and mashed along with aromatic spices and stuffed in baby green peppers. These are then stir fried in a wok. This process generally needs a lot of oil, but I managed to make it totally fat free. The trick here is a good non stick pan and a lot of patience. The recipe is as follows -

Ingredients -

7-8 baby green peppers
4-5 medium potatoes
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp Dry mango or Amchur
salt to taste

Method -

1) Boil, peel and mash potatoes. Add all spices, and mix well. Adjust seasoning. This should be well seasoned.
2) Wash and destem peppers. Remove the seeds and white membranes. If you are lucky, you will get the really small peppers or capsicums. This dish is specifically made with the small sized peppers.
3) stuff the potato mixture in all the peppers. The amount of potatoes needed might vary based on the size of the pepper.
4) Heat a thick bottomed non-stick pan or wok. Add the peppers and do not stir until they get a sear on one side. Turn over gently and sear on the other side.
5) Add a splash or two of water to avoid sticking and cover well. Keep the heat on low and let the peppers steam.
6) Check the water level periodically. After the peppers look almost cooked, remove the cover and heat until the liquid evaporates. Sprinkle some salt on the top of the peppers if needed.
7) The peppers are done when the skins look crumpled and the peppers reduce in size a bit.
8) Serve hot with rotis or rice or just on its own with a salad.

This is a great way to convert a popular favorite into something healthy and is worth a try.