Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Spicy & Healthy White Beans Chaat- Curb Those Evening Cravings/Hunger Prangs

Spicy & Healthy Beans Chaat- Curb Those Evening Cravings/Hunger Prangs

Healthy snacking is a challenge, at the end of the day when I get home from work, I am a hungry puppy looking for food. The temptation to eat fried snacks or piece of cake with a cup of tea is very enticing. It's really hard to walk away from these temptations. Over the years I have learnt to curb or at least contain these temptations is to not buy or have these treats accessible easily, I figured if I see/have them where eye can see I end up eating them and then the guilt wave takes over. As they say necessity is the mother of invention, with no fried treats I was forced to look for alternatives. Last few years I have learnt to be cautious of what I eat and keep healthy snack choices like fruit, healthy bars, baked goods with whole grain, fresh carrots always available. This did help me to an extent and healthy snacking has become a part of my DNA. That said I do fall of the wagon once in a while and like everyone else inch back or try inching back :)

Of all the treats, Chaats are the hardest to let go, tempting Pani Poori or Bhel Poori makes me drool. I think what makes these so tempting are the complex and delicious flavors sweet, spicy, tangy, salty and the crunch adds to deliciousness.
Making chaats without fried Poori's is not that hard, it the flavors that makes these so tempting, now by replacing the fried stuff with healthy alternative you get best of both worlds delicious chaat and low fat and guilt free.

Made this healthy white bean chaat few weeks ago, simple, flavorful and totally customizable to your taste and did I say low fat

1 cup of white beans soaked overnight and pressure cooked for two whistles
1 red onion cubed finely
1/2 cup raw mango(optional)
1 tomato chopped finely
1 Jalepeno /green chili diced finely
1 cup fresh corriander chopped finely
tbsp of fresh mint
juice of one lemon/lime
For Chaat Masala's
2 tbsp of Chaat masala, I use MDH
tbsp of rock salt
1/2 tspn of jeera/dhania powder cumin/corriander(optional)
1/2 tspn of Amchoor or dry mango powder
1/2 tspn of red chili powder
and salt according to taste
1. Remove beans from the pressure cooker and drain and pat them dry
2. Fry these beans in a tawa/fry pan without any oil for about 2 minutes tossing once in a while.
3.Now remove from heat and add to a bowl big enough to hold all fresh ingredients and convenient to toss.
4. Now add all fresh ingredients and then all dry masala's and give it a good toss.
5.Check for salt and adjust accordingly

Serve at room temperature and with a bowl of fresh juicy strawberries and enjoy a snack guilt free.
Hump day is almost over and so looking forward to the long weekend.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Saag Paneer/Mustard Greens & Paneer - Soul Food

Saag Paneer - Soul Food

Food evokes memories the smell, the taste, the flavor. Few weeks back got some goodies from India, the moment I pop those treats I was transported instantly. Memories of grandparents, cousins, summer and vacations were involuntarily invoked. Though its been fifteen years since calling US my home still memories are as vivid as yesterday, the power of affection, love and care I guess. As my kids and I create and weave our memories I wonder what would they remember the most.

Few years back my husband and I took a mini vacation within our vacation in India, we toured  THE vibrant Rajasthan, we went to Jaipur, Udaipur and Ranthambore National forest. One of our most indulgent trip ever. We stayed at Vanyavilas in Ranthambore and after a day on an open jeep safari trying to catch  glimpses of the Tigers, we were exhausted. Vanyavilas is hands down the very best resort I have ever stayed, I was treated like royalty to a point that it got tad uncomfortable :). That night I remember we were treated to one of the most royal meals ever, ate scrumptious Rajasthani food. The food, the ambiance, the service stuck like a snapshot. After two days in the forest we returned to Jaipur to catch a flight back home, this was an over night journey by car. We were warned of robberies on the highway and were made cautious, now that was enough to keep both of us awake and both of us hardly blinked through out the drive. We both we hungry and yet were scared to stop on the highway, finally driver persuaded us and we decided to take a break at a well lit Punjabi dhaba. I guess it was fear combined with hunger we ate as thought it was a first meal after years, and what we were treated to was Saag Paneer and Makki da roti, dhaba food came as close to royal treat at Vanyavilas san the price.
Made Saag Paneer this weekend and all I could think about was our trip and the unreasonable fear we experienced. 

Mustard greens/Saag is in season, love the beautiful color of the flowers. Today's recipe takes less than 15 minutes from finish to start. Mustard Greens/Saag is healthy and is rich in vitamin A and Vitamin K.

about 4 cups of chopped and cleaned mustard green
1 red onion
4-5 garlic pods chopped finely
about an inch of fresh ginger chopped finely
2-3 green chillies
1lb of Paneer cubed 
1 cup of coriander 

2 tbsp of Garam masala
2 tbsp of corn flour for thickening 
tbsp of Tumeric
tbsp kasoori methi (dry fenugreek)
tbsp red chili powder
salt according to taste

1. Clean mustard green and dice onion finely.
2. Heat a pressure pan add 2 tbsp of oil, when oil gets warm add turmeric, garam masala, ginger,garlic,green chilles.
3. Saute for 30 secs or so and then add red chillies and chopped onion.
4. Saute till onions turn golden brown
5. Now add mustard green and salt and about two cups of water and pressure cook for about three whistles.
6. While greens are cooking, add a tbsp of oil in shallow pan and add cubed Paneer and saute for about a minute or two and keep aside.
7. Once pressure cooker cools down, open the lid and using your hand blender, grind the greens into a fine paste. Adjust for salt.
8. Add corn flour and mix well and allow to cook on slow
9.Now add Paneer and mix well.
10. Let Saag cook for about 5-6 minutes on slow flame.

Saag Paneer goes very well with roti or Jeera rice which I served last week.

As I said earlier food evokes memories and this brought some really special ones. Weekend is almost here, have a good one, it's going to be one busy one for us.

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