Natural Mantra


1 Comment

Comfort food: Corn Chowder

“A man is what he eats” – Ludwig Feuerbach

We all have different choices when it comes to comfort food. Comfort foods are usually simple and have a nostalgic feel to it, depending on culture and taste. It is something which we all have grown up on or find it most easy to digest on a tiring day. Some would treat comfort food as therapeutic depending on factors like stress or health. We always associate food to circumstances and comfort food is one amongst them. We also indulge in festive foods albeit occasionally. What is so special about comfort food? Why am I stressing on it so much….

In a lifestyle like ours where we forget to eat or manage our time well because of the rat race. It is important that we manage or plan what we eat! Veggies and organic foods are good for us but are we looking beyond what is REALLY comforting. For me a simple rassam or pepper water maybe  comfort food and  my friend may find a cake his/her comfort food. We all have our levels of satisfaction and it is only YOU who can tell yourself what comforts you the most.Let me leave you with this thought, even simple things or food for that matter can change your life into better living.

Corn chowder is a one pot meal and I consider it to be my comfort food :). It is a soothing combination of corn, potato and carrot flavoured with some herbs and olive oil; which makes it a simple soup for dinner. I always end up thinking what to make for dinner at the last minute and find this recipe handy.

Ingredients

1cup sweet corn kernels, cooked

1/4 cup chopped red onion

1/4 cup finely chopped carrot

1/4 cup finely chopped potato

1/2tbs olive oil or butter

1 clove garlic, smashed

chopped  spring onion for garnish

salt & pepper for taste

Grind the corn kernels along with garlic in a mixer, coarsely.Heat oil or butter in a pot. Saute onions until soft and add potato, carrot and salt. Cook until soft. Add the corn puree, some water (maintaining thick consistency) and bring it to a boil. Simmer the gas and cook for  5 minutes. Check for salt and add pepper. Serve hot garnished with some corn kernels and spring onion. Serves 2.

You could also garnish or flavour the chowder with cheese, fresh or dried herbs, roasted garlic, free range or organic chicken or eggs. Bon Appetite!

Who am I?
My name is Megha from ‘i2cook’. Yup I’m the one who makes peanut butter and other organic products. You can buy my products online. I’m a guest author on Natural Mantra and will be posting all things healthy. I don’t mind being assertive when it comes to talking about all things healthy/organic that are good for you. Feel free to share your thoughts. There’s always room for a little improvement…..what say?


1 Comment

Jackfruit – a wonder fruit & a recipe

Jackfruit is known as the wonder fruit because of it’s numerous uses and benefits.  Jackfruit was once, the staple food of Coorg, when paddy was not sufficient  for consumption. Jackfruit trees are commonly seen in Coorg, to provide shade to cardamom or black pepper. The coffee plantations, bordering forest areas face the problem of elephant menace due to their fondness for the fruit. In order to avoid the menace of animals, many farmers started removing immature fruits and throwing them, leading to wastage. Due to this, the department of agriculture in Bangalore has initiated ‘Jackruit Mela’ to bring together all the farmers and build awareness.

In Kerala, no fertilizer is applied and  it also has the potential to be identified as one of the promising fruits grown organically. Although there is large number of indigenous varieties of the fruit grown in the state, systematic documentation regarding the varieties is yet to be done.

The various uses of the fruit is achieved by harvesting  at different stages of maturity and converting them into various products like chips, burfee, candies, bars, halwa, peda, papads and so on. The pulp is used to flavour ice-cream and drinks or can be canned and used when not in season. The seeds can be eaten boiled, or added in curries or pulav. In south, jackfruit kebabs are made out of young or not ripe fruit which tastes like chicken and is a good substitute for non-meat eaters. Jackfruit’s wood is used to make music instruments like veena and drums mridangam. It is widely used in furniture, door and window construction and commonly used for roof construction in Coorg.

Jackfruit can be a difficult fruit to deal with and thus sometimes is neglected. The best way to deal with the fruit is to oil your hands and knife before cutting.  My personal favourite combination is jackfruit and jaggery. It is not only healthy but has a rustic taste. Jackfruit kheer or payasam is commonly prepared in Kerala, known as Chakka pradhaman. The dish is traditionally prepared in an ‘urli’.

Ingredients for kheer or payasam:

8-10 pieces jackfruit, de-seeded, chopped and washed

1/2 cup jaggery

milk or coconut milk or coconut cream

a pinch of cardamon powder

1tbs mixed cashew & raisins

1tsp ghee for roasting nuts

Pressure cook the jackfruit. Once cool, grind the boiled fruit to achieve a fine pulp.
Heat the pulp with jaggery on medium flame.
Bring it to a boil. Add milk and bring it to a light boil.
Turn off the stove and flavour it with cardamon and garnished with some dried nuts.
Serve hot or cold. I personally prefer it cold or chilled. Serves 4.


Leave a comment

Some iced coffee please……

For a coffee lover like me summer days are difficult for hot coffee . How about some iced coffee?! My new found recipe for my love of coffee 🙂

Iced coffee is made in different ways. Personally I like using pure coffee decoction rather than an instant one.  A lot of cafes use cream and ice-cream to enhance taste. I have found most of them lacking in basic coffee flavour. Did you know that using a good coffee powder and easily available ingredients in your kitchen, can help you make that “perfect iced coffee”!

There are two ways of making the coffee decoction –

  1. To soak coffee powder with water, overnight and strain it the next day.
  2. Make the decoction first in the percolator and allow it to cool. Once cooled, let it stand for couple of hours in the fridge. You can also use your left over decoction from the previous day.

When I follow the first option, I find that it is not only flavored but also the simplest way of making iced coffee without the use of gas or even a blender. The only important thing apart from coffee is to stock up lots and lots of ice.

Makes 4 glasses & Vegan

50gms of coffee powder

100-150ml cold water

lots of ice cubes

milk, condensed milk or soy milk and sugar as per taste

Soak coffee powder with water in a container.  Close and allow it to stand in a cool place at room temperature for eight hours or overnight.

Strain the coffee liquid the next day. Discard ground.

Fill ice cubes till the top of a tall glass. Pour 2/3 of the glass with coffee decoction. Add 3-4tbs of plain milk or condensed milk. Add sugar as per your taste. Mix well and adjust sugar or milk accordingly. Serve immediately chilled.

Natural Mantra has got a good range of organic coffee, which can be purchased online.

 

Who am I?
My name is Megha from ‘i2cook’. Yup I’m the one who makes peanut butter and other organic products. You can buy my products online. I’m a guest author on Natural Mantra and will be posting all things healthy. I don’t mind being assertive when it comes to talking about all things healthy/organic that are good for you. Feel free to share your thoughts. There’s always room for a little improvement…..what say ;)


4 Comments

Chickpea Salad with Lime & Mustard Dressing

How do you like your salad?

Most of us like to complicate or rather are scared to experiment with salads. Some people find it ‘Boring’ or some find it too ‘Healthy’. It all depends on  what you WANT from your salad. Salad making may sound very simple but it’s not. It is an art. An art of blending ingredients and flavours. Even a slight change or an off balance can make the salad taste too leafy, raw or there is something missing. A perfect salad should have a balance of sweetness & sourness. Some salads do ask for some spice but it’s a personal choice again.

Here are some basic tips to keep in mind when it comes to showcasing your salads:

  • Wash your salad leaves thoroughly and pat dry them. Shake the excess water in a salad spinner. If  you don’t have a salad spinner, you can try this at home.
  • Use only one or two fruits and not more than that, unless you are making a fruit salad.
  • All salads require some texture or crunchiness. Either use nuts or some red radish depending on your salad.
  • You can garnish your salad with some  cheese or bacon bits to give it some texture.
  • Pre mix your dressing at least an hour before you serve.
  • Always mix your dressing, just before serving your salad. In some cases, where the leafy veggies are negated, you can mix the dressing  serve on a bed of salad leaves (demonstrated below).
  • Keep some extra dressing on the table just in case any one would like use some more.

These are some of the basics things that I follow and it works really well.

1 cup (250gm) chickpeas, cooked with salt
1-2 small red radish
1/2 onion, chopped small
juice from 1/2 lime
2tbs chopped cilantro
2tbs mint or orange mint (available at Nature’s Basket)
1/2 Tbs sugar
1Tbs i2cook mustard
1clove garlic, finely minced
1/2 tbs olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
salad leaves for serving – use any kind ( I’ve used lettuce)

Mix all the ingredients for the dressing in a salad bowl. Pour the chickpea  and mix well.  Refrigerate for an hour for flavours to blend well.

Just before serving arrange the plates or serving bowl with some salad leaves  and pour in the dressed chickpea mixture. Serves two.

Who am I?
My name is Megha from ‘i2cook’. Yup I’m the one who makes peanut butter and other organic products. You can buy my products online. I’m a guest author on Natural Mantra and will be posting all things healthy. I don’t mind being assertive when it comes to talking about all things healthy/organic that are good for you. Feel free to share your thoughts. There’s always room for a little improvement…..what say ;)


3 Comments

Mayonnaise with free-range eggs

Homemade Mayonnaise has real flavour as opposed to the insipid taste of the jarred version. You can adjust the consistency, depending on what you are using it for. Stiff Mayo is good for serving with deep-fried and grilled food, while a loser mayo can be used as a sauce for seafood or hot or cold veggies.
Vegetable oil work best as they are tasteless and can be used for multipurpose mayo. Olive oil or any nut oil can be used to make more distinctively flavoured mayo. Most mayo, can be made by hand or in a blender, but mayo made with olive oil should be made in mortar pestle by hand, because the aggressive action of the blender or even a whisk, may compromise the flavour of the oil and may turn slightly bitter.

I will be sharing the blender method. Most recipes suggest to use only the yolk. It can also be made using solely egg whites, with no yolks at all, if it is done at high speed in a food processor. The resulting texture appears to be the same. I prefer to use the whole egg. The choice is yours 🙂

2 whole free-range eggs
1tbs i2cook mustard
1tsp vinegar
250gm (approx) sunflower or any vegetable oil, even soy oil is good
salt & pepper to taste

Combine the eggs, mustard, vinegar in a blender. With the blender on the lowest speed, pour oil in a slow but steady stream through the opening in the top of the  blender, blending until the mayo stiffens. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Mayo may break – that is the oil may separate out of emulsion and the mayo may turn loose and grainy( if the oil is added too fast at the beginning or the mayo is too stiff). If its stiff – just add water, vinegar and blend well. If the mayo breaks – just  rework the broken mayo into another egg in a second bowl.

Plain mayo can be flavoured to create innumerable variations, by adding dry or fresh herb/herbs or by adding capers or finely chopped gherkins. You could also colour the mayo orange by adding saffron.

A lot of us wonder or are confused about what does cage-free birds or free-range eggs mean? Last month there was an interesting article on  cage-free birds in BBC Good Food, India in which it mentioned that, the  cage-free birds are not cooped up in a cage unlike the commercial ones. In the commercial ones, the cages are placed in a row and stacked several tiers high. The cages are so cramped up that the living space is less than an A4 size paper. On the other hand,  cage-free birds are not kept in cages and are allowed open access to the outdoors.

In rural setting, birds are allowed to forage in the backyard and in urban one they are allowed to roam freely within a large compound.
Free-range eggs are more expensive than the commercially available eggs. The well known brand, Keggs, based in Delhi, costs 55/- for half a dozen which is nearly triple the price. These eggs are at a premium cost since the egg production is not predictable and  it is difficult to monitor how much feed each bird consumes. So at this rate the bird may lay an egg only once every two days.

There has been no scientific evidence to suggest that these eggs are more nutritious than regular eggs. Consuming free-range eggs is more of a conscience call.

In Mumbai, you can buy  free-range eggs from Foodhall, at Palladium Mall, Nature’s Basket outlets and I’ve also spotted them  at Jude’s Cold Storage, Bandra. You can also check with your local chicken shop if they could arrange for some locally.

Who am I?
My name is Megha from ‘i2cook’. Yup I’m the one who makes peanut butter and other organic products. You can buy my products online. I’m a guest author on Natural Mantra and will be posting all things healthy. I don’t mind being assertive when it comes to talking about all things healthy/organic that are good for you. Feel free to share your thoughts. There’s always room for a little improvement…..what say 😉


1 Comment

Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Balls

What are you doing this holiday season with your kid? Do you enjoy cooking with easy recipes?

If the answer to the above questions is YES then here is a festive recipe that you might want to devour.

Creamy, sweet peanut butter filling covered with a thin layer of chocolate. This is a simple recipe which can be enjoyed by both parents and kids. The best past is that it involves no oven or a cook-top!

Kids of any age can enjoy making these as it involves two of their favourite things peanuts and chocolate. Peanut butter is a healthy snacking option for kids albeit the coating of chocolate makes it so much more fun :). So go ahead and indulge your loved ones in some fun cooking this Christmas!


250gm i2cook peanut butter –  you can buy it here
2tbs utmt honey
4tbs raisins (optional)
200gm of Dark chocolate compound (in room temperature)

In a large bowl, whisk together peanut butter, honey & raisins until smooth. Taste the sweetness, you can add more honey if you like yours sweeter but remember, the chocolate is sweet as well. Dig in with your (clean) hands and take in a tablespoon of the mixture in your hand and roll into small balls. Place the balls on a parchment lined baking sheet. Once you are done rolling all, place them in the fridge to chill for about 2 hours.

In a small but deep bowl, microwave the chocolate for 30 seconds intervals, stirring well until smooth. Using a fork, dip each ball into the chocolate, tap off the excess and set it back on the parchment. Repeat the same for all the peanut butter balls. Place them back in the fridge to set completely for a few hours, about 6 hours or overnight.

Makes about 15 small-sized nibbles. Store in an air tight container, refrigerated. They work great as Christmas gifts too!

I would love to hear your fun stories. Have a great holiday and Merry Christmas to you and your family.

Who am I?
My name is Megha from ‘i2cook’. Yup I’m the one who makes peanut butter and other organic products. You can buy my products online. I’m a guest author on Natural Mantra and will be posting all things healthy. I don’t mind being assertive when it comes to talking about all things healthy/organic that are good for you. Feel free to share your thoughts. There’s always room for a little improvement…..what say 😉