Panakam Or Gur (Jaggery) Sharbat


India has a culinary culture where the beverages had an important place. Among the many varieties of cold and hot indigenous, traditional beverages sharbats were considered best not just as refreshing drinks but also as medicinal remedies. Most of the sarbats were decoctions / infusions of fruits, flowers, herbs, roots grown locally in a specific region.. They were prepared according to the season. Each sharbat had a therapeutic use. I read somewhere that sharbats were introduced by Mughal emperors in India in 16th century.

In North India, where I live, I grew up with sharbats made with rose, khus, hibiscus, mint, lemon, bael, raw mango or kachcha aam, phalsa, sattu, ilmi or tamarind, gur, badam, sandalwood, amla, kewra, ginger and many other things.  In summer months sharbats were served during festive occasions, religious ceremonies and to house guests apart from their daily use in homes. These specially made serbats helped to combat the merciless heat of Northern Indian Summer.

In other regions also Sharbats were part of the daily cuisine among other beverages.

Gur ka ghol  or gur ka sharbat may not sound fancy but it is delicious taste and has tremendous benefits in terms of keeping the body cool, purifying blood and helping in the digestion. It also helps to ward off dehydration. In rural areas Gur ka ghol was served to anyone who came home from sweltering heat of summer. Gur and water was given separately also. The tradition still continues in many areas but now the commercial drinks are taking over slowly replacing the traditional ones which is a sad thing.

The gur sharbat we drank was prepared with grated jaggery dissolved in water and spiked with black rock salt, lime and mint.

The closest thing to it I found in Old Delhi’s Mohalla Pahadi Imli in chawari bazaar’s chitli Qabar area. The guy makes fantastic gur ka thanda sharbat.

Here we will be making Panakam, a variant of our North Indian Sharbat. Panakam is made in South India during Ram Navmi and is an important Naivedyam. It is not just a summer cooler but it also brings down the body’s heat and stimulates the digestive system. A traditional remedy to prevent dehydration and heat strokes.

Each ingredient in this drink has a purpose and usually it should not be replaced with anything else. You can call it an ayurvedic energy booster.

Panakam / Paanakkam 

Ingredients :

Jaggery Powder or Grated Jaggery – 3 heaped table spoons

Dry Ginger powder – 1 teaspoon (You can use fresh ginger juice too)

Freshly crushed black peppercorns- 1/2 teaspoon

Green Cardamom – 3-4 crushed

Holy Basil or Tulsi leaves –  2-3

Salt –a pinch

Water – 2 Cups

Lemon (Optional) –   2-3 wheels slightly muddled

Ice Cubes

 

Steps –

Dissolve Jaggery powder or grated Jaggery in half cup of tepid water. I use tepid water to quicken the dissolving process.

Let it set for 15-20 minutes.

Crush dry ginger ( sonth) ( if using whole), black peppercorns ( kali mirch)  and green cardamom ( choti elaichi)

Once the jaggery dissolves completely, strain the liquid through a fine mesh to remove all impurities.

In a pitcher add rest of the water. Add the jaggery liquid, crushed spice mix, salt and a teaspoon of lemon juice if using.

Stir properly  and refrigerate. The flavours from the spices will slowly get infused in the sharbat.

Take it out just before serving and add lots of ice chunks or cubes.

You can either strain the sharbat or serve it as it is.

Garnish with lemon wheel, Tulsi leaf and green cardamom pods.

This needs to be served chilled.

 

  1. Adjust the sweetness with the quantity of jaggery. The sweetness will depend o nthe quality of gur used. Always prefer untreated, chemical free jaggery.
  2. You can add edible Kamphur too to make it taste like the original panakkum. I don’t prefer it.
  3. The amount of water used will determine the taste. Adjust spices, sweetness etc according to that.
  4. Always strain the jaggery liquid so no impurities remain.
  5. Pepper gives it a unique taste but do not over spice. Use in moderation.
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Summer Special – Homemade Iced Teas


Peach Iced Tea

Peach Iced tea from Olive Kitchen and bar. It was an Instagram event where I gone.

 

I am more of a coffee person but I absolutely love Iced Teas and Tisanes. I am sure you know the difference between Tisane and tea. Tisanes are fruits or herbs steeped in boiling water (no actual tea leaves, Camellia sinensis, are included).

These Iced tea here are made with either Darjeeling Tea or CTC Assam black tea. These aren’t Tisanes. Have I confused you ? :p

Maybe it is time to have some delicious Iced Teas. The good thing about making Iced Teas at home is the freshness and the purity. No artificial flavors, coloring or high sugar content. They are better than the soft drinks and packaged commercial beverages. So infuse your teas with whatever seasonal herbs/spice or fruit you like and drink it fresh.

These recipes have a Indian touch to them. I have tried to create some unique tastes so feel free to change the measures as per your taste.

First the basic Iced tea – You can either make a cold brew or a hot brew and chill it. I prefer to chill a hot brew for it is quicker.

Always add boiling water to the tea leaves and not the opposite, that is the thumb rule. Always prefer more leaves to make the tea stronger than to let it seep for long time. This will make the tea bitter. Cool the tea on counter before refrigerating otherwise it will cloud and won’t look so presentable. Always use double the quantity of tea leaves for iced teas from what you would use for hot tea. Darjeeling tea needs to be cooled quickly or else the flavor substances in the tea will get oxidized. Loose tea leaves are the best. Most of the teabags are synthetic. Tea leaves also makes a full flavor brew so go for them, invest in good tea. Use minimum sugar/honey etc. but that is personal. I don’t like my teas taste like a sugar syrup. 😛  Talking of sugar syrup, you can make some and use that instead of granules as it will dissolve nicely. Use honey for the best result and if you like it. Iced Tea brew can be kept in the fridge for two three days or frozen for using while travelling.

Basic tea recipe – Keeping the points above in mind, put the tea leaves of your choice in a heat resistance jug or kettle, pour boiling water over them and let them seep for the time required for that particular tea. Once the color and flavor is achieved, strain and cool it on the counter and chill in the fridge. Now you are ready to make any of your favorite Iced Teas.

1. Refreshing Fruity Tart Kokum Infused Iced tea 

Kokum/ amsul or fruit of Garcinia indica plant is sour in taste but full of health benefits. Kokum sharbat is part of my childhood and one of my favorites. Here we give a twist to classic Iced green tea with this lovely sun dried fruit.

To make this you will need:

  • Sun Dried Kokum/Amsul Fruit Petals – 4-8 pieces
  • Sugar – 1/2 Cup
  • Water – 3 Cups
  • Green Tea Loose – 8 teaspoons Or Green Tea Bags – 8
  • Finely Chopped Fresh mint – 2 teaspoon
  • Ginger Juice – 1 Teaspoon
  • Lemon Wedges – 6-8
  • Honey – As per taste and If not using Sugar

Instructions – 

  1. Properly rinse sun dried kokum and soak it in a cup of boiling hot water for 30 minutes.
  2. Once the fruit is pulpy and soft mash and rub it with your fingers to release all the juice and strain it from a strainer. Press the pulp nicely so all the juice releases.
  3. While the kokum is soaking finely chop washed fresh mint leaves, take out juice from fresh ginger and cut small lemon wedges.
  4. In an ice cube tray place these three things in small amount and add water.
  5. Freeze till ice cubes are formed. You can make these ice cubes in advance too or just mix the three ingredients in the Iced tea once made.
  6. In a pot boil the water. In a pitcher place the tea bags or loose green tea leaves and pour the boiling water over it.
  7. Cover and let it seep for 3-5 minutes.
  8. Always use twice the amount of tea leaves when makes Iced Tea than you would for hot tea. Don’t seep it longer or the tea will taste bitter.
  9. Remove the bags or strain the tea leaves once you get the desire color and flavor.
  10. Add the sugar and stir well so it dissolves completely.
  11. Let it sit on the counter till it cools then refrigerate, It will become cloudy if you keep warm tea in the fridge.
  12. In a jug add the cold tea brew and kokum juice and mix. Check for sweetness and add more if you prefer sweet tea. I keep it mildly sweet.
  13. Add the mint, ginger juice and lemon wedges if using directly and mix.
  14. Fill the serving glasses with lemony gingery minty ice cubes and pour the kokum infused iced green tea.
  15. Serve it fresh and chilled.
 You can alternately Add some kokum pieces to the strained hot tea and let the fruity tart flavor get infused in the tea. Remove it before pouring in the Jug. 2. Add honey instead of sugar if you so desire. You can also use sugar syrup instead of granular sugar. It dissolves better. Use ready-made kokum sharbat concentrate if you do not have fresh or dried fruit. One teaspoon per glass is good enough.
2. Tangy Sweet Amm Panna or Raw Mango Panna Iced Tea 
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I love the mango nectar iced tea made with ripe mangoes but this one with raw mangoes is unique in taste. I made it with a mix of Darjeeling and CTC Assam black tea. Usually I leave a few chunks of slightly crushed raw mango slices in the jug and dont use lemon. Slightly ripe raw mango gives it another twist. Equally good. Needs little honey/sugar too.

Ingredients:

  • Tender Raw Mangoes – 2 small or 1 big
  • Sugar – 1/2 cup or Honey as per taste
  • Lemon wedges – 4-5 ( Optional)
  • Raw mango slices – 4-5 ( Optional)
  • Fresh Mint Leaves – 8-10 crushed
  • Darjeeling Tea leaves + CTC Assam Tea – 6 Heaped Teaspoon + 3 Flat Teaspoons
  • Water – 3 Cups
  • Ice Cubes | Crushed Ice – Made from 3 cups of water

Instructions :

  1. Make ice from the three cups of water in advance.
  2. Wash the mango and boil or roast it till soft. Cool and take out the pulp in a ceramic or glass bowl. Let it cool.
  3. Once cool, put the pulp in blender and add sugar to it. Blend till a smooth texture is obtained. Take it out in a bowl. Mix crushed mint leaves and Refrigerate.
  4. In a pot boil 3 cups of water. Once it begins to boil add CTC tea leaves and then turn off the flame to add the Darjeeling tea leaves. Cover and let it seep for 3-4 minutes.
  5. Take out the ice and crush it properly. Place it in a pitcher and pour the thick tea brew to quicken the cooling process as Darjeeling tea changes in flavor and taste if allowed to cool on its own for a longer time.
  6. Once the tea is cool put it in the fridge.
  7. In a serving jug add the aam panna and top it with cold tea brew. Check for sweetness and add honey or sugar syrup if required. Tea should taste tangy so do not sweeten it too much.
  8. Add more ice cubes to the glasses when ready to serve.
  9. Garnish with lemon wedges/ raw mango slices and mint springs.

You can also roast the mango on direct flame of stove or preheated oven at 200 degree for 30 min depending on the size of the mango. Wrap it in aluminium foil and place on the rack. to get gorgeous roasted mangoes.  You can use organic jaggery instead of sugar or honey. Just ensure that it dissolves nicely. You can make the aam panna concentrate beforehand and use when required. 6. A little ripe green raw mango will give a different flavor and it tastes awesome too.

 

3. Tipsy Fruit Infused Spiced Tea 

Fruit infused spiced ice tea with cinnamon, Clove, ginger, lemon, mint, apple, orange, pomegranate, honey and almost frozen Darjeeling tea. This is a vodka Iced Tea cocktail for those who love a dash of alcohol. A match made in heaven.

Ingredients: 

  • Darjeeling Tea Leaves – 12 Teaspoons
  • Honey – To Taste
  • Cloves – 5-6
  • Cinnamon Stick – 2-3 inch broken in half
  • Ginger – minced and peeled 1 tablespoon
  • Lemon / Lime – cut in wheels/ wedges – 1 each
  • Lemon juice – 2 tablespoon
  • Orange – 1 medium cut in wedges or wheels
  • Apple – 1 cut in wedges or wheels
  • Mint – 1 teaspoon crushed
  • Honey | Sugar – to taste or Sugar
  • Pomegranate pearls – 1/2 cup slightly crushed
  • Water – 4 cups + 2 Cup
  • Vodka / Gin – 60ml

Instructions – 

  1. Add lemon juice and a little sugar ( two tablespoons) to 2 cups of water and freeze as ice cubes.
  2. Wash and cut all the fruits and squeeze some lime juice over them. Refrigerate wrapped in a cling wrap.
  3. Mince ginger and collect all the spices and tea leaves.
  4. Boil the remaining water along with ginger and spices.
  5. Once water comes to a boil add the Darjeeling tea leaves or any other tea leaves of your choice and seep according to the tea leaves. Darjeeling will take 3-4 minutes. Add more leaves to make a strong brew. Do not seep longer.
  6. Once you get the desired flavor and color, strain the tea leaves, spices and ginger. Add sugar and stir to mix well. If using honey add it in the pitcher when ready to serve.
  7. Immediately pour the tea on a cupful of crushed ice to hasten the cooling process so the flavor doesn’t get oxidized. Chill it for a while in the fridge.
  8. Before serving, throw in the cold fruits and half of the lemony ice cubes in a pitcher and add the chilled tea
  9. Add vodka / Gin ( you can increase the quantity if you desire but 60 – 90 ml is good enough) . Stir properly.
  10. Now throw in the lemony ice cubes and some chilled fruits from the pitched in the glasses and pour the chilled Iced tea vodka brew.
  11. Garnish with lemon wheels and mint springs.
  12. Serve chilled.

You can use Green tea also for this recipe. Use any fruits or spices you like. Same with the alcohol. Omit Alcohol if you are not in a mood for a tipsy drink.  Keep it simple and flavorful. Too many flavors will ruin the taste.

(This won the first prize in the Better  Butter Summer Drinks Contest)

4.  Iced Pomegranate​ Green Tea

With dash of ginger juice, lemon wedges and cold press fresh pom juice frozen as ice cubes to add some drama. Slightly sweetened with honey this is sheer bliss.

I often make ice cubes by placing, crushed mint or fruit pieces or lemon pieces in the ice tray and pour water to make ice cubes. They look pretty in the drinks. One can freeze juices too in the similar way. Maybe a separate post for that sometime.

Ingredients –

Green Tea Bags – 8

Water – 6 cups

Honey – to taste

Pomegranate pearls – for ice cubes and garnish

Cold Press homemade Pom Juice – 1/2 cup

Fresh Ginger Juice – 2 tablespoon

Lemon Wedges – a few

Instructions:

  1. In a heat resistance jug or kettle place the teabags. Boil water and pour over the teabags. Cover the lid and Let it seep for 3-4 mintues or till the desired strength and color is achieved. Remove the Teabags and let it cool. You can alternately use Green tea leaves.
  2. Once the tea is cool, add honey and stir nicely then put the tea in the fridge to chill.
  3. Take a good ripe pomegranate, peal and take out the pearls in a bowl. Transfer the pearls to a zip lock bag and squeeze and press till the pearls release the juice. You can use the cold press juicer. Do not use the commercial poem juice.
  4. Strain the juice into a small jug or glass.
  5.  Take out the chilled tea, mix ginger juice, lemon wedges and pom juice and stir well.
  6. In the glasses add lots of ice cubes or crushed ice and pour the Pomegranate Iced Tea over them and garnish with lemon wheel or wedge.
  7. Serve Chilled.

 

You can be more adventurous and make your own Iced Tea combinations using different  things. Let me know if you make any of these.

 

Cheers!

Vodka Bael Squash Mojito – A Classic Cocktail With An Indian Twist


There was a time I really relished cocktails and experimented with it too. Then times changed and I slowly lost touch of making them. Yesterday while making making Bael (Bel) sharbat or panna I decided to experiment with this classic Mojito by giving it an Indian twist. The original Cuban Mojito calls for white rum but I really don’t like white rum much so I opted for Vodka, in this case OPM ( a Triple Distilled Luxury Spirited Russian Vodka).

On tasting I realized one could also make it with Absolut Citron. Must try that some time. This one has a refreshing sweet, citrus, mint flavor with a unique taste of Bael fruit which is hard to describe. This drink is incredible. Though I feel one will have to develop a taste for it.

Ripe Bael or Stone Apple has a sweet taste and often emits a sugary and musty aroma which I love. Usually we make the bael murraba or bael chutney with it if not making the refreshing bael squash or sharbat which I used in this recipe. I wonder if wood apple is the correct name for bael fruit. Maybe someone can guide on this. I prefer to call it Stone Apple. The fruit has medicinal values and is highly nutritious.

Now for the Mojito 

Ingredients :

  • Bael/Bel/Stone Apple Panna concentrate
  • Freshly Cracked Black Pepper – Just a sprinkle for each glass
  • Salt – To rim the glasses
  • Vodka – 60 ml of your choice of Vodka
  • Ice cubes

 

Method –  

  1.  Use the Bael Panna recipe link to make Bael Panna.
  2. Omit Jaggery for making mojito and use sugar. Also omit roasted cumin seed powder.
  3. For the Mojito – Muddle the mint leaves with the lemon juice and lemon quarters in a cocktail shaker or a jug with a muddler or back of the rolling pin..
  4. Add the Bael panna, vodka and ice cubes.
  5. I tweaked the classic Mojito here and omitted sugar syrup and carbonated water/soda
  6. Close the cocktail shaker and shake well. If making in a jug just stir in all the ingredients.
  7. To Serve- Rim two tall glasses with salt (Optional). You can use normal table salt or powdered rock salt for an extra kick.
  8. Fill the glasses with lots of ice and pour the Wood Apple Vodka Mojito. Add a dash of freshly cracked black pepper for that zing. You can omit if you do not prefer it.
  9. Garnish with mint sprig and lemon wheel/wedge.
  10. Serve chilled.

 

You can make the bael panna in advance and refrigerate it. I sometimes like the taste of ginger juice in it but have not tried it in this cocktail. If you are adventurous go ahead and experiment. Let me know if it works. Someone suggested a dash of cayenne pepper instead of black pepper. I am not sure. 😛  I used 2 parts Bael panna to one part vodka but you can change it to your liking. Keep the mint and lemon low key to get the full flavor of the fruit juice.

Sorry about bad photography skills and for not using proper glasses etc. I am passionate about making stuff but do not have the finery to display.

Hope you enjoy trying out this.

Salud!

 

 

 

 

Bael Panna | Bel Ka Sharbat


Bel/Bael or stone apple is also known as Elephant apple and Bengal Quince. It gets its name of stone apple due to the hard cover.  It is native to India and the tree is considered sacred for Hindus. Bael fruit is used in traditional medicine. It is also found in Srilanka and Thailand.

Bael fruit is a storehouse of  good health and nutrition. Packed with protein, phosphorus, Vitamin C and B complex and tannin it strengthens the heart and mind, cures acidity, increases body resistance and improve the memory. It also cures ulcers and gastric disorders, treats acidity, burning sensation in the stomach and nausea, cleans the stomach of impurities and cures weak eyes. It is also a good cardiac tonic and energy booster. A good source of beta-carotene, Bael also cure liver problems. It also contain thiamine and riboflavin. Once a week intake of Bael fruit cures Amoebiasis .

Bael is used for making sharbat, chutney and murraba. The fruit is also eaten as medicinal remedy.

To make a healthy Bael  ( Stone apple ) sharbat we need : 

Ingredients :

  • Ripe Fragrant Wood Apple – 1 Medium
  • Sugar/Jaggery powder – To Taste (Depends on the sweetness of bael fruit)
  • Water – About 4 Glasses
  • Fresh Mint Leaves – 10-12
  • Lemon Juice – 1/2 Lemon
  • Lime Quarters – 3-4
  • Rock Salt powder – 1/4 teaspoon per glass
  • Roasted cumin powder – 1/4 teaspoon
  • Ice Cubes

BeFunky Collage

Method : 

  1. Crack open a ripe Bael fruit and scoop out all the fibrous flesh in a large glass bowl. No need to discard the seeds right now.
  2. Add 2 glasses of water to the pulp so that it submerges completely. Cover with a lid and set aside for 2-3 hours.
  3. Now mash the soaked pulp with hands and once it mixes properly sieve it through a thin mesh to collect maximum amount of juice.
  4. Add a little more water and sieve again. Throw away the seeds and insoluble fiber.
  5. Add Sugar/ jaggery powder as per the sweetness of the fruit concentrate and mix well. Refrigerate till you are ready to use.
  6. To serve panna, fill the glasses with ice cubes and pour the bael juice concentrate over it. Add Rock salt powder and the required amount of water and stir properly.
  7. Garnish with lemon wheels and fresh mint sprigs.
  8. Serve chilled.

You can muddle some fresh mint leaves and add to the fruit concentrate too. A hint of ginger also tastes good at times.

Do make the traditional summer beverages that used to be a part of our daily cuisine. They are not just refreshing but also therapeutic. Keep away from commercial, synthetic drinks.

 

Quick Recipes With Popped Amaranth Seeds


Amaranth, the royal grain, is known as Raamdana/ Ramdana, Rajgira in India. Actually it is not a grain but seeds of the Amaranth plant. These tiny seeds  pop up  when roasted to become light and fluffy and provide more protein content than the much touted quinoa. A whooping  9 gm of complete protein in one cup. Amaranth contains all the essential amino acids which makes it much better than any seed/grain.

This tiny yet power packed seed is a store house of many essential nutrients. It has a significant amount of calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, iron and Vitamin C. Another good thing is that it is gluten free so people who are celiac or gluten intolerant can easly incorporate it in their meals.

I have very fond memories of munching on raamdana ladoos as a child. Light and mildly sweetened with jaggery they are the best snacks to have at all ages as they are easy to digest too. We even used these popped seeds in porridge, both sweet and savory. Raamdana is very versatile and you just need to be innovative to include it daily in your diet one way or the other. You can use them in cutlets, frappes, ladoos, soups, muffins, breads, cakes, quiche, energy bars or use it as a breakfast cereal or baby food or sprinkle over salads etc. .

Here I made some quick sweets and a frappe using Organic popped amaranth seeds from I Say Organics. 

Dates, Mix Dry Fruit and Popped Amarath Ladoos 

This is a fantastic easy and quick recipes which can be made with or without cooking if you already have the amaranth seeds popped.

You can make bite size balls to eat as snacks. The size depends on your wish. I make them small so I can eat it often. There is no oil/ghee or added sugar so that makes these a wonderful snack.

To make these nutritious ladoos you will need :

Dates –  1 cup pitted (good quality)

Popped Amaranth / Rajgira Seeds – 1 Cup

Chopped or Powdered Mix dry fruits ( Almonds, raisins, cashews. walnuts etc. ) – 1/2 cup

Any seeds ( flax seeds sesame seeds) if you desire – 2 tablespoon

( If you have the  wet dates then no cooking is required but if the dates are dry then they need to be heated a bit. )

Method – 

Pit and chop the dates fine.

Dry roast the nuts and chop or powder them as per your taste. If using seeds then dry roast them too but take care not to over roast. Just light roasting is fine.

If  you are using dry dates then heat a non stick pan and add chopped dates to it.

Keep the flame low and stir till the dates soften.

Add the nut mixture,  seed mixture and popped ramdana, give it a nice sir and switch off the gas.

Remove the mixture in a plate and mix it thoroughly so that everything gets incorporated nicely.

Make small balls of the mixture and let them cool before putting them in an airtight container. Eat these  nutritious power packed ladoos any time of the day. I am sure kids wuld love them too. Do give it a try.

If yo uare using the soft, wet dates then just chop them and put the dates and powder/chopped dry fruit mixture in a blender and mix till a gooey mix is obtained. Take it out in a bowl and make small bite size balls from it.

Ramdana/ Popped Amaranth Brittle/ Chikki 

Our next recipe is for the brittle made of raamdana.  I have used Organic jaggery and popped amaranth seeds from I Say Organics in this recipe to get the maximum benefits from the ingredients.

Ingredients: 

Popped Amaranth Seeds / Rajgira / Ramdana – 1/2 Cup

Organic Jaggery – 1/2 Cup ( you can use Palm Jaggery too. Crumble it or cut into slivers with a sharp knife.)

Ghee/ coconut oil – 1 tbsp ( coconut oil for vegans)

Pinch of salt

Method – 

Grease a baking tray/ plate with oil and set it aside.

Put a heavy bottom pan on medium heat and add the oil or ghee to it.

Add the grated or crumbled Jaggery with a pinch of salt. I don’t use shakkar or granulated jaggery.

Stir it constantly till the jaggery melts and there are no lumps. Keep the heat low if required so the jaggery doesn’t burn. It will become more like a syrup.

Add ramdana / amaranth seeds and mix well.

Pour the mixture in the greased tin and

spread it evenly with a spatula.

Let it set for 20-30 min then remove it from the baking tray and either break into pieces or cut into squares.

Keep in an airtight container.

Note- Some people make a syrup or Paak of jaggery with water. I prefer it this way. To make it crisp you’ll need to melt the jaggery a little longer without burning. I just wait till it dissolves completely and add amaranth.  This chikki/brittle is a bit softer than the market version.

Popped Amaranth seeds Parfait with Mixed Fruit And Nuts 

I love yogurt Parfaits and this is one of my favorites. You can do so much with this basic recipe. Add any fruits, nuts, seeds to it with natural sweetness of fruits and perhaps some home made preserve or organic honey  or organic jaggery slivers/ granules if you like it sweeter. Dates/ Prunes make this frappe very delicious and naturally sweet too.

Ingredients –

Chopped Prunes or Dates

Popped Amaranth seeds

Chopped mix nuts (walnut, cashew, almonds etc and  mixed raisins ( black, gloden)

Hung yogurt

Homemade preserve/ honey/ maple or date syrup/ molasses or jaggery

Method 

Just layer these ingredients one by one to make the parfait presentable or if in a rush just toss everything together  and have it. Both ways you’re getting the goodness of this power packed recipe. Top the frappe with the Preserve or any of the other sweetening ingredient mentioned above. It is entirety up to you what to add/remove.

Make it as healthy and innovative as you desire.

Hope you liked these recipes. Do try and let me know in the comment section about your experience.

Chilling With Mangoes – A wholesome Parfait & Smoothie


I love fruit desserts especially those made with yogurt. These days mangoes are in season and the intense heat has added more sweetness to them. I bought a dozen of Kesar variety a few days ago and they were insanely sweet. Here are two healthy recipes to beat the sticky summer heat. The ingredients are the same but the tastes are different. Also, sometimes one wants to drink something refreshing yet nutritious rather than eat. So, we have two healthy choices here -A parfait and A Smoothie.

So, what’s different in this Mango Yogurt Parfait?

We are all familiar with overnight Oats and fruit Parfaits but here is a desi and healthy twist to that recipe with the lusciousness of mangoes and flattened/Beaten Rice or poha soaked in home cultured yogurt and lightly flavored. Enjoy this highly nutritious parfait as a dessert or a main breakfast dish to kick start your day.This recipe is inspired by blogger Sangeeta Khanna’s mango poha.

Flattened rice or poha is prebiotic and probiotic apart from being a rich source of many nutrients. It is easy to digest too.  I have more poha recipes on blog which you can explore and enjoy. Write ‘poha’ in the search tab and you will have them all.

 Mango Yogurt Parfait with Beaten Rice Flakes or Poha 

I can bet that once you have this refreshing Parfait you are surely gonna make it again. Choose ripe, juicy, fragrant mangoes and home cultured yogurt to reap the maximum nutritional benefits.

Ingredients :

  1. Chill the glasses in the fridge before assembling this versatile Parfait.
  2. Whip the yogurt with honey and chill it. That will make it an instant eat.
  3. Dry poha needs to be rinsed under filtered water in sieve and kept for sometime to
  4. Mix the soaked poha or flattened rice flakes in it. Mash and mix properly. Keep it in the fridge to puff up more and chill.
  5. In the mango puree add ginger juice and cardamom powder. Mix well. Chill.
  6. Now, take the serving glass or goblet and carefully put two spoons of mango puree in it then add a layer of yogurt poha mix. Alternate layers Till you reach 3/4 of the glass. You can layer them as per your choice.
  7. Keep the top layer of dahi poha and Top it with generous amount of cubed and chilled mango pieces.
  8. Refrigerate your Parfait a little more to set properly.
  9. Sprinkle granola, muesli or popped amaranth seeds (ramdana) or chopped nuts of your choice just before serving.
  10. Enjoy this wholesome utterly delicious healthy parfait any time of the day.

There are times when you are in rush and do not have time to relax and enjoy this Parfait but still want something healthy and filling. Don’t worry, just turn this into a delightful chilled smoothie and drink it up.
Mango , Banana, Yogurt Smoothie 
 Freeze the fresh mango pulp and chopped bananas or even cubes of mangoes. Soak the poha in yogurt overnight in the fridge ( 2 tablespoons in 1/2 cup yogurt + 1 teaspoon of honey if required). Next morning Put everything in a blender and blend into a thick delicious smoothie. You can add or omit poha and banana. The smoothie is so versatile. Add popped ramdana (1 tablespoon if not using poha) or cooked oats .You can add explore the possibilities of tongue ticking taste by adding any other fruit with mango or nuts/ dry fruits etc.
But, I love it just like this. Too many flavors mar the delightful taste of mangoes which we don’t want. 🙂
My Tip: Brown or red poha gives it a nutty flavor and is more nutritious than the off white one. Do not go for white bleached poha. Try and used organic products. Prefer popped ramdana as topping but here I used muesli as garnish. Use organic as far as possible.
I do not use blender to puree the mango. I do it the traditional aamras way, rolling and pressing the mango between palms and, making a slit at one end to squeeze out all the pulp then mashing it nicely with hand till no lumps are left. This way the pulp has a nice texture and it gives the Parfait a unique taste too. Yes, there is distinct difference in blended pulp and hand squeezed pulp which you will notice when you have the smoothie. 🙂
Hope you will make these and let me know your feedback. So, go grab some mangoes till they last and indulge.

Dried Figs, Banana And Yogurt Smoothie


 

After mangoes figs are one of my favorite fruits but we don’t get fresh figs here in Delhi unless one pays an exorbitant price for them in some posh store or food hall in a mall.  Throughout the year I use dried figs which we get at almost all good grocery stores. The locally fried one come beaded in a rope and are deliciously sweet. I never use the packaged one sold by multinationals with added preservatives etc.

Sometimes I use fresh figs for smoothies and they pair brilliantly with apples and bananas. If you love the natural sublime flavor of figs just use them with ripe fresh frozen bananas and voila you have a fantastic breakfast or post workout drink in a jiffy.

I use home cultured yogurt for my smoothies but you can use Greek yogurt, low fat yogurt, almond milk, coconut milk and normal dairy milk too. Riper the fig greater the sweetness of the smoothie. Figs are rich in Iron and are the highest plant source of calcium. They are loaded with antioxidants and soluble fiber plus they are low on calories too. They are rich in zinc, magnesium and other essential minerals. Ayurveda tells us that figs are cooling and sweet in nature. Most of all they taste so good. 🙂

I am anemic most of the time and eating two sun dried figs, that are soaked in a little water, first thing in the morning helped me regain my hemoglobin and iron levels to some extent. I drink the water in which the figs are soaked. In some ways figs are even better than dates nutritionally.

As I have given up on bread I usually make one fruit smoothie to go with my breakfast. Fig banana smoothie is naturally sweet so I do not add sugar or honey to it. If you find it less sweet for your taste add a little honey and not sugar. Apart from being health honey gives  the smoothie a nice texture. Honestly, you must bank on the natural sweetness from fruits like I do.

If you are using dried figs for this smoothie soak them overnight or for 30 minutes to an hour in some water till they plump up nicely. Add the fig flavored sweet soaking water in the smoothie.It is rich in antioxidants.

Ingredients 

(One large glass)

3 Sun dried figs or fresh figs

1/2 Cup chilled yogurt ( home cultured is best)

2 Fresh ripe bananas

Method :

Use the ripe or a little over ripe fruits to get the maximum sweetness.

Peel and chop the banana , put it in a zip lock bag and freeze while you do other stuff.

Frozen fruit makes best smoothies but you can use it without freezing too.

In a blender put soaked dried figs or fresh figs, chopped banana and chilled yogurt. Add a few ice cubes ( I sometimes freeze coconut water to make ice cubes for such smoothies)

Blend everything till thick and smooth. There should be no solid pieces of fruit.

I love the smoothie with no added sweetener or essence etc. but some people use vanilla , rose water, cinnamon, even chocolate. I feel they mask  the flavor of the fruits.

Pour the rich thick delicious smoothie in a mason jar or glass and serve chilled.

 

Note

Always use unblemished, fully ripe plump figs if using fresh ones. Look for Figs with stems in place. Figs are highly perishable so buy in small quantity and use them quickly. Ripe figs are delicate and yield slightly when gently pressed. Check for mold too. Figs have a tendency to develop white mold. Discard if you see any.

If using the dried ones, look for the sun dried figs or the organic ones with no preservatives. Dried figs have a robust and more sugary taste than the fresh ones. Look for the ones that are dusty, dirty or hard. The fruit should bend easily.

The smoothie may turn slightly brown if kept for sometime due to the antioxidants in figs just like the apple. So, don’t worry about it. 🙂

 

PS – The painting you see is made by yours truly. It is acrylic on canvas. I do paint sometimes. 🙂

 

Tip : Just a little fresh ginger juice sometimes gives a distinct kick to the smoothie. Try it. ( 1/4 teaspoon)

 

Tangy And Sweet Citrus Smoothies And A Ruby-Red Mocktail


I got some bright yellow Malta Fruits ( a variety of blood orange grown in Uttarakhand, India) and Limes a few days ago and apart from eating them as whole fruit, I made some awesome smoothies and detox water with them. You can substitute it with oranges, or any other variety of citrus fruit.

Use of organic fruits ensures that the zest and peel is safe to use. Loaded with vitamins especially Vitamin C, dietary fiber, potassium, calcium, natural acids and enzymes, these refreshing immunity boasting smoothies are part of my daily diet these days. I eat citrus fruits with abundance. Their use in recipes not just enhances the flavors but also helps in absorption and use of other nutrients like iron from iron rich foods i.e spinach, beetroot etc.

Lemons, oranges, maltas, grapefruits, limes, all are rich source of phytochemicals and have  cancer fighting, disease fighting antioxidant properties.

Citrus fruits are low in fat & calories and have low sodium & low cholesterol. They are the best natural diuretics that help detox your body of harmful toxins. Make your own detox water with a variety of citrus fruits for best results. We will talk about it in another post.

Blend them whole with  berries, bananas, dates, kale, baby spinach, apples, pears, mango, papaya, carrots, pineapple, kiwi. They pair well with almost all fruits and many of the vegetables. Use mint, cilantro, ginger where ever you feel they go best. For the base, I use coconut milk, home-made yogurt, dairy milk, vanilla ice cream or vanilla milk, almond milk or just blend with frozen coconut water cubes.

You can add soaked beaten (flattened) rice, oats, puffed amaranth seeds etc as a bonus healthy ad-on. I have not yet used the citrus fruits with skin for smoothies but I keep the mesocarp, which is full of nutrients, intact in the smoothies or parfait.

1. Lime and Lemony Malta Smoothie With Ginger has a refreshing blend of citrus flavors. The fresh ginger juice adds a kick to the taste and enhances the flavors too. The lemon and lime add zing to the sweet malta. Ginger is good for sinuses and soothes a sensitive stomach. All the three citrus fruits give plenty of Vitamin C and refreshing taste to the smoothie.

Wash, peel and cut the 1 malta and 1/2 lime. Put them in the blender jar. Extract juice from 1/4 inch of fresh ginger root. Add to the fruits. Add juice of half a lemon and a teaspoon of organic honey (optional). You do not need to add any liquid to make this smoothie but if you want to enhance the flavor you can add Greek yogurt or natural home-made yogurt, frozen tender coconut water cubes or a scoop of vanilla ice cream. This one doesn’t have any add-on.

To extract the juice of fresh ginger root. Grate the ginger and gently squeeze all the juice from it. Add a teaspoon of water to the grated leftover and give a good squeeze again to extract whatever is left. Use it fresh.

Once all the ingredients have blended well, pour the sunshine smoothie in a glass and add 1-2 crushed fresh mint leaves before serving. Serve all smoothie absolutely chilled.

2. Power packed Five Fruits Smoothie 

This delicious smoothie has the goodness of dates, banana, apple, malta and lime. Full of nutrition this is not just filling but also has a delicate caramel flavor to top it all.

To make this power packed smoothie you need

1 Malta/orange

1/2 Lime

1 Apple

1 Banana

5 dates (pits removed)

Pure vanilla extract -1/2 teaspoon

Hershey’s caramel syrup (optional) to drizzle

Soak the dates the night before in a little hot milk or water. Once cool, keep it in the fridge. Cut the bananas and freeze them in a zip-lock bag. Cut the apple with the skin and place that too in a zip lock bag. put the bags in the freezer the night before.

When making the smoothie wash, peel and cut the malta and lime. Keep aside.

Add chopped banana, apple pieces, softened dates (with the liquid), malta and lime pieces and the vanilla extract in this order. Blend the fruits for 1 minute at high-speed or till all the fruits have blended smoothly. Freezing the fruits gives the smoothie a creamier texture. You can use them without freezing too. If you do not have a powerful blender then blend the dates to a smooth paste separately and then add to the smoothie.

Pour this part creamy part juicy smoothie in a glass and generously drizzle the caramel syrup on top.

This refreshing glass of goodness will keep you going nicely all through the day. You can add 2 teaspoons of soaked oats, soaked flattened rice flakes or popped amaranth seeds to make it even more healthy and filling.

Tip – Add coconut cream for an awesome refreshing taste. Skip Caramel syrup if adding this. It tastes out of the world.

3. Mango, Carrot Smoothie With a Citrus Boost

I love mangoes and this vibrant glowing smoothie. I add a little ginger juice to spice it up. Yes, I am a bit obsessed with ginger in smoothies just like I love the garlic in pasta. That’s me 🙂

This energizing smoothie is my favorite. It provides100% of your daily requirement of Vitamin C & A and a good dose of folate and B1 vitamin along with other nutrients.

To make this you will need:

1 ripe mango

1 carrot medium size

1 malta/orange or any other citrus fruit

1/2 a lime

2 tablespoon of soaked oats (optional)

juice of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon fresh ginger extract

a few leafs of mint

Instructions:

Wash, peel and cut the mango into cubes.

Wash, peel and grate the carrot. I used the English carrot in this one but I usually make it with the winter’s local red one. It has a sweeter taste.

Peal and cut the malta and lime into pieces. Make sure all the fruit pieces are of equal size for a smooth blend. Put all the fruits in the blender jar.

Now, I did an interesting thing with the ginger, lemon juice and mint.

Put fresh ginger,extract, lemon juice, three pinches of salt and crushed mint in a glass and add enough water to make 4-6 ice cubes. Mix it well. The mixture should taste like a gingery lemonade. Freeze this in an ice-cube tray an hour before you make the smoothie. It gives an exotic note to the drink.

Add a few of these frozen cubes to the other ingredients and blend until smooth.

Pour it in a chilled glass over the remaining frozen cubes. Sprinkle some roasted oats and garnish this delicious smoothie with a lime wedge.

I don’t need to tell the health benefits you will reap from this one. It is a great post workout drink. Most of these smoothies have no added sweetener. The sweetness comes from the fruits so select your fruits carefully.

You can always make your own variations of these smoothies by adding or removing some ingredients but keep the base citrus.

After this wonderful citrus bonanza of healthy smoothies here is a bonus mocktail that is my personal favorite any time of the year.

The gorgeous ruby-red Pomegranate Lime Ginger Ale Mocktail

I love pomegranates and would rather eat them than blend into drinks but this particular one is irresistible. Whenever I have to use pomegranate juice in a recipe I prefer the home-made cold press juice. It is more flavorful and nutritious than the market one. This particular mocktail, or cocktail if you add alcohol to it, has to be made fresh. You can not make it beforehand. I also make pomegranate lemonade. You can add vodka to make a delicious cocktail. I am not a fan of white rum.

For this lovely mocktail I made some ice cubes by dropping 2-3 pomegranate pearls in water while setting the ice tray. They look beautiful in the drink.

It is super easy and is ready in less than five minutes.

Ingredients:

1 cup cold press juice of organic pomegranate

1 can of ginger ale ( I used Schweppes Original)

1/4 cup Thin Julienne of lime and ginger

Few fresh sprigs of mint

Salt – to salt rim the glass and a little to add to the drink (optional)

To make the cold press juice, take the juicy pearls of organic pomegranate. Place a muslin cloth in a sieve. Place this sieve on a measuring cup. Now put the pomegranate pearls in it. Rub, press and squeeze with your fingers till all the juice is released. You can use a juicer with cold-press too. (I don’t have it)

Two medium size pomegranates gave me 1 cup of fresh ruby-red super sweet juice.

In a pitcher add ginger and lime Julienne, a little salt and lemon juice. Add fresh mint leaves and with a wooden muddler just give a few gentle twists to bring out the minty aroma. Don’t over do it or crush the mint otherwise the drink will taste bitter. Add the chilled pomegranate juice, top it with ginger ale and ice cubes, Stir and pour it in cocktail glasses. Garnish with lemon wedges. You can salt rim the glasses before pouring the drink.

There is nothing more refreshingly fruity than this Mocktail.

If you add lemonade or sparkling water instead of ginger ale you will have a gorgeous pomegranate mojito. It is as good as this one but I love ginger ale and prefer it over mojito unless of course one is adding vodka to it. 🙂

Just look at this beauty. It will ceases all your troubles in just one sip.

Hope you enjoy making these healthy fruity drinks.

I will look forward to your variations of these.

Cheers to good health and happiness.

A Delicious Dates Banana Surprise Smoothie


We are into second week of September and it is still incredibly hot. I can tell from the afternoon sun flooding my room that winter is standing at the threshold waiting to step in anytime. As a healthy diet change I am using fresh fruits and home-made yogurt / Almond milk / Soy Milk / etc to make delicious smoothies. A quick wholesome breakfast drink that sometimes has a surprise ingredient just to make the mornings interesting and creative. A good start, I say.

I went for my second sitting for molar root canal today and the dentist told me to eat something soft so instead of having this in the breakfast I had it as a late afternoon tummy filler.  :p

Using home-made cultured yogurt is the best thing you have for a healthy digestive system. We were brought up on home cultured yogurt. We would always keep a little culture to set the new batch of yogurt and if we forgot, mom would send us with a little katori (bowl) to get it from neighbors. We would knock on all doors till we found a home that has home-made dahi and ask for a jaman (culture). Frankly it was a tad bit embarrassing so the best way to avoid it was to remember to save some jaman without fail.

These days a range of packaged yogurt is available easily. I use the one from ‘Mother Dairy’ for convenience but now I want to get back to setting my yogurt at home.

Full of protein, calcium, riboflavin, vitamins B6 and B12 Yogurt is very good for intestinal flora. I have a weak digestion so love to include a lot of yogurt in my diet.

This smoothie is a perfect blend of bananas, dates, almonds and a surprise ingredient that you will soon discover. 😀

High in protein, rich in taste and texture, this is one of my favorite smoothies. You can opt for milk, soy milk or almond milk instead of yogurt. It is your personal choice.

To make this refreshing smoothie you will need :

1 ripe medium size banana

6 dates ( soaked if using dry ones)

6 Almonds – soaked and pealed

1/4 cup Yogurt

Pure Vanilla or / and cinnamon powder  – just a little (optional)

and my surprise ingredient

a handful of soaked poha (beaten or flattened rice)  (about 3 tablespoons 🙂

I use poha because it is probiotic, prebiotic, and gluten-free food. It is low calorie, nutritious and gut friendly too.

I also use popped amaranth/ramdana or rajgira grains sometimes which is our indigenous substitute for quinoa. It is much cheaper and is equally nutritious, if not more. We will discuss its goodness in another post.

So once you have all the ingredients ready, here is how you make this lip smacking smoothie,

1. Wash poha under running filtered water in a sieve to drain out the water. I soak it overnight or for at least an hour in the yogurt that is to be used for the smoothie. Just the way we make dahi poha ( yogurt poha).

2. Wash, cut and soak the dates (seeds removed) in a little warm water/milk to soften them.

3. Soak the almonds ( I use sweet California almonds) overnight in a bowl of water. Keep it covered. In the morning discard the water, wash the almonds and remove the skin.

4. Chop the banana and place it in a zip lock bag. Place this in the freezer.

5. In a blender add yogurt, soaked beaten rice, banana pieces, dates and crushed almonds.

5. Add a dash of Cinnamon or/and a few drops of pure vanilla. (optional)

Remember to add the ingredients in this order for a rich, thick ,smooth texture.

Now cover and blend for 10 seconds at high-speed or till everything blends smoothly.

Pour it in a glass for an early morning power packed goodness.

The natural sweetness of dates is enough but if you wish you can toss in a teaspoon of organic honey.

It is in a way a healthy start to the day and a complete breakfast as far as i know.

Delicious too. 🙂

Smoothie don’t always need a milk or yogurt base. Next time we will do something different. Watch this space.

*You can replace Poha with oatmeal too.

A Healthy Yogurt Smoothie With Organic Apples and Pomegranates


I discovered I Say Organic  from their FB page and ordered a few fruits which were in the season. Mangoes to begin with. It was a bitter-sweet experience at first but then their customer support is excellent and they worked on my issues immediately. I have ordered things from them since then. Last week I got a package of red delicious apples and pomegranate from them. Both the fruits were fresh, sweet and juicy. I prefer my smoothies to have natural sweetness so decided to use the last few in a delicious apple, pomegranate yogurt smoothie.

I prefer organic fruits  because we can use the fruits like apple with their skin. Their website claims that the products are free of toxic chemicals and are organically grown. There is a vast taste difference between organic and conventionally grown apples. Eating apples with skin is a good high fiber, low sugar option. Apple skin has most of the nutrients like dietary fiber, Vitamin C and antioxidants. We all know the health benefits and nutritional values of this fruit.

Similarly Pomegranates are loaded with nutrients and are considered as one of the healthiest food. The arils are rich in fibers, vitamins, minerals and bio-active plant compounds, beta carotene. You can find all you want to know about the health benefits of these fruits from mother Google :D.

I use naturally cultured yogurt which I make at home but today for the lack of it I used the one from Mother Dairy. It is as close as one can get to home made one.

For the smoothie I used :

1 medium size organic red delicious apple

1 medium size organic golden apple.

1 1/2 medium size pomegranate

1/4 cup natural Mother Dairy dahi ( yogurt)

I did not use any sweetener.

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Process :

Wash and pat dry apples. Dice them with the skin into small pieces.

Wash and cut the pomegranate in half. Take a bowl of cold water and break apart one half of the fruit inside the water. The membrane will release the pearls beautifully as you slowly rub it with the thumbs. The membrane sticking to the peals will float up and the peals will stay down. Drain the water and you will have ruby red, juicy gleaming pearls of sweetness. Google is the mother of all life hacks but I remember it being done at our home since I was a kid. So…  😀

Now that we have both the fruits ready, take the blender, add the yogurt first then add the fruits to it. If you know the fruits aren’t very sweet then add a spoonful of organic honey to it.

To make smoothies healthy do not use sweetened yogurt, refined sugar etc. Natural fruit sweetness is the best. Honey or date/maple syrup is the next best choice.

Keep things simple and natural.

Cover and blend the ingredients for 10 seconds or till everything is blended to a smooth texture.

I use the pearls of the pomegranate fruits. You can take out the juice and add that to avoid the seeds.  Use only fresh juice in smoothies. If you don’t have a juicer, simply place all the pearls in a plastic sieve over a container and rub/press/squeeze with your thumbs till all the juice is out. I used pearls of 1 pomegranate and the other 1/2 fruit I juiced like this. To quicken the process I used a wooden masher used for making pav bhaji. 😀 It worked beautifully and I got super sweet deep red juice in no time which I chilled in the freezer and added to the smoothie before having.

The result was out of the world.

I am very fond of pomegranate margaritas and I simply love the salt rimmed cocktail glasses in which its served so I salt rimmed my smoothie glass and it made the flavor more enticing. It also made me crave for the margaritas 😉

Tomorrow will be another special smoothie wit ha surprise element. Watch out for it.

Till then Enjoy!