Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Mangalore bajji and Product review of Fortune Rice Bran Health oil

With the increase in the number of lifestyle related diseases, it has become so important for us to review our food and lifestyle habits regularly and see what changes we can make, however small they may be, for us to have a better life.
We, as a family, love food and I make conscious changes wherever possible, to improve the quality of food we have.

I have been using different oils over the many years that I have been cooking. Doctors usually recommend using different oils, so that the body does not get used to any one type of oil. In my daily cooking, the usage of oil is really minimal and deep frying is at most a once-a-month event and usually for puris, which my son loves. I use sunflower oil and safflower oil for my everyday cooking, sesame oil for Chinese stir-frys and some Tamilian style dishes, mustard oil when I make Bengali / UP style food and olive oil when I make Italian and for baking breads. Rice bran oil was something new and something I had heard about and seen in advertisements, but I had never used it.

fortune oil

Fortune Rice Bran Health Oil

Rice bran oil is the oil extracted from the germ and inner husk of rice. It has a high smoke point of 213°C (415°F) and has a mild flavour, making it suitable for high-temperature cooking methods like stir frying and deep frying.
Thanks to Blogadda, I got a 2 litre pack of Fortune Rice Bran Health oil a couple of days back and started using it. I am reviewing healthy heart oil as a part of the BlogAdda's Product Review Program for Indian Bloggers.

Fortune Rice Bran Health oil is a 100% vegetarian oil and comes from the reputed Adani Wilmar group that has a number of brands.
It is an odourless oil and the colour and density is the same as the regular oils that I am used to, so it was easy to switch over. To put this oil to test, I used it in my daily cooking, in baking and in deep frying. Here's how it went...

I used this oil for the last few days in my everyday sabjis, stir frys and for tempering. Here is a matar paneer that I made using rice bran oil. The recipe will follow in the next post.

matar paneer

Matar Paneer

I also decided to use the oil to bake a cake. I adapted this recipe to bake a date cake, substituting the butter with oil, and making a few more changes. I baked it in a loaf pan and it turned out moist and delicious and we didn't miss the butter in it at all. The oil has a mild flavour which only enhanced the taste, so it scores well on the baking front too.

date cake with oil

Date Loaf

This rice bran oil contains an antioxidant γ-oryzanol, which has been proven to decrease cholesterol. Research shows that rice bran oil and its active constituents improve blood cholesterol by reducing total plasma cholesterol and triglycerides, and increasing the proportion of HDL cholesterol (Good cholesterol), which helps in reducing heart related diseases. Studies have shown the antioxidant stability in rice bran oil remains almost constant even when heated at frying temperatures. The density of rice bran oil is found to be constant throughout the time of heating. The oxidative stability of rice bran oil was equivalent to or better than soybean, corn, canola, cottonseed, and safflower oil in deep frying conditions.

I decided to test this oil by doing some deep frying, since it is a low-absorption oil. I made these Mangalore bajjis / Goli bajji which is a very popular snack from Karnataka.The oil did not cling on to the fried food and we had no oily fingers when we picked up these bajjis. Lower oil consumption even in deep fried foods is a real big plus.


Deep fried Mangalore bajji

Rice bran oil reduces blood triglycerides (fat molecules in the blood). It is good for the skin and has squalene which acts as a natural moisturiser. This oil has a balanced ratio of PUFA (Poly unsaturated fatty acids) and MUFA (Mono-unsaturated Fatty Acid) which keeps our blood vessels clean.
The price for a litre of Fortune Rice bran Health oil is Rs 115/-, which is comparable to any standard cooking oil in the market. At this price, it is definitely worth switching over, given all the benefits this oil has.
For a complete list of benefits, check this link


Goli bajji

These Mangalore bajjis or Golibajis are a favourite of mine. I have always enjoyed these at a this little restaurant in the Malleswaram area of Bangalore called Shree Sagar (CTR). The masala dosas and the goli bajjis here are simply awesome.

These are spongy little bajjis / fried dumplings made with flour and buttermilk. This was my first try making it at home and it turned out really delicious. Crisp from outside, melt-in-the-mouth soft from inside. Gets done in less than 10 mins. Great idea to serve when unexpected guests arrive.

Goli bajji / Mangalore Bajji
(Recipe source - Mane Adige)

What you need -

1 cup maida
1/2 cup buttermilk or curds (preferably sour)
2 green chillies finely chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsps chopped coriander leaves
1 small piece of ginger chopped fine or grated (I prefer grating it)
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
Salt as per taste
Oil for deep frying

What you do with it -

If you are using curds, and its very thick, add 2 tbsp of water to it
Add the salt to the curds / buttermilk and beat it well
Mix the maida, cumin seeds, chillies, coriander and baking soda in a bowl.
Pour the curds / buttermilk into the maida and mix well
There should be no lumps
The consistency of the batter should be like dosa batter
Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pan.
Using your fingers, take a small amount of batter and gently drop it into the hot oil
Cook on medium heat till they turn golden brown in colour
Remove and drain any excess oil on paper towels
Serve with coconut chutney

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Karnataka farmer style food - Bas saaru and soppina palya

Its been over a month since I really made some regular South Indian food. There's been a lot of pizza, pasta and the like happening in my kitchen for a while now and last Sunday TH even commented about it. Luckily, TH and my son are very open to any type of food, but definitely our regular food is what is comfort food for us.

At my mom's place, we had this cook for a little while who made amazing Karnataka style food. Avrekayi masala, bisi bele bhath, Mysore rasam and this bas saaru were her specialitiesI found these amaranth leaves / dantina soppu here after a long time, and remembered its been ages since I had this bas saaru. Though this is not something I grew up with, I enjoy the earthy traditional goodness of this dish

soppu saaru

This is a nutritious meal that is popular among the Gowda community of Karnataka. In Kannada 'basidu' means strained, since the saaru/rasam is prepared from this strained water it is called 'Bas Saaru'. The broth of the cooked greens and dals is made into a rasam / saaru and the remaining cooked dals and greens are made into a sabji / palya. This is usually had with ragi mudde / finger millet steamed balls. Packed with protein and iron, this is a staple among the farmers in Karnataka who need this to keep them going, with all that hard labour in the fields


We have something very similar in Konkani cooking too, called saar-upkari, where the grains or legumes are cooked with a lot of water. The water is used to make saar and the legumes are made into an upkari or a dry side dish. My favourite is alsande / black-eyed peas saar - upkari.
The bas saaru has more strong spices like cinnamon and garlic, which is not something I regularly use in a saar. This bas saaru is had with ragi mudde which is very nutritious but doesn't really have a taste of its own, so the accompaniments are usually quite spicy.

This made for a nice hearty, healthy Sunday lunch

Bas saaru and soppina palya

What you need -

3 cups packed chopped amaranth leaves (use spinach or any other combination of green leaves)
1/2 cup tur dal
1/4 cup yellow moong dal
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
2 tbsps grated coconut

3-4 peppercorns
3-4 pods of garlic
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 stick cinnamon
2 tbsp coriander leaves
a small ball of tamarind / 1/4 tsp tamarind extract
1/2 tsp grated jaggery
1 tea spn mustard seeds
2 red chillies
4-5 curry leaves


Combine the greens and the dals in a large vessel. Wash and drain and then add 4 cups of water and a little turmeric powder
Keep it partially covered and allow it to cook on a medium flame till the dal and the greens are cooked
Add a tbsp of grated coconut and continue cooking for another 5 mins
Strain the water and keep aside

For the saaru -
Take about 1/2 a cup of the cooked dal and greens and grind it along with the onion, garlic, pepper corns, cinnamon, coriander leaves and tamarind into a smooth thick paste
Add this paste to the water / broth in which the dal and greens were cooked
Add salt and jaggery and bring it to a boil
Season a few mustard seeds and curry leaves in oil and pour over the saaru

For the palya -
(this is really my version of making this palya, this is how we like it)
Heat a pan with a tsp of oil and a tsp of mustard seeds
Allow the mustard seeds to splutter and add the red chillies and curry leaves
Mix in 1/2 tsp of tamarind paste and 1/2 tsp grated jaggery into the remaining greens and dal and add this to the pan
Add a little salt and cook, adding a little water if required
Garnish with coconut
Serve hot saaru and palya with rice or ragi mudde

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Pancakes with strawberries

My son was introduced to pancakes and waffles about a year ago. He has never been fussy about food, but trying something new for the first time always needs a little convincing. That rule somehow doesn't apply when its something sweet, even a hint of sweetness and he doesn't need any other push. After these buttermilk chocolate chip pancakes, he is hooked on and wants either pancakes or waffles for breakfast every Sunday.

pancakes with strawberries

We picked up some maple syrup (that I thought was pretty expensive), but I think honey or any other sweetish syrup can be used instead. Top it up with the fruits in season and you're all set.

I had this box of strawberries at home. I am always tempted to pick them up when I see these pretty fruits, but they need to be used soon and then I am at a loss of what to make with them. Last week Ma was here and she said if I wasn't using them soon, I should cook them up a bit with some sugar and then refrigerate it. This was a simple but great idea. I chopped the strawberries in half and then added about 1/4 cup water and 2 tbsp sugar and heated it in a pan till the sugar dissolved and the strawberries were all glazed in the sugar syrup. This took about 10 mins or so. Stored it in a bottle and have used it as a topping on plain vanilla ice-cream and then these pancakes.

TH and my son had this for breakfast. TH had it with the strawberry syrup and the little fellow had it with banana slices and honey. I don't have a sweet tooth and can't eat anything sweet for breakfast, so our Sunday breakfasts are always different.

My parents gifted me a waffle maker sometime last year and I use the same pancake batter to make waffles. The toppings and syrups vary but this is pretty much the standard recipe I use. I find the ones made with buttermilk more fluffy and tasty compared to the ones that use milk, though both work absolutely fine. I use home made buttermilk and it has all the butter-y residue that perhaps makes the pancakes so fluffy.

Basic pancake / waffle recipe

What you need -

1 cup APF / maida (or use 1/2 cup APF and 1/2 cup wheat flour)
1 egg
1 cup milk / buttermilk
a pinch of salt
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp melted unsalted butter (avoid if you are using buttermilk)
butter for greasing
1/2 tsp vanilla extract / essence
chopped fruits of you choice
maple syrup / honey / golden syrup

What you do with it -

Add the flour(s) along with the salt, baking powder and baking soda in a large bowl
Beat the egg and whisk it with the sugar and milk / buttermilk in another bowl
If using the vanilla essence / extract, add this to the egg and milk mixture
Add the flours to the egg mixture and mix well
Stir in the melted butter and mix again
Heat a non-stick pan and add some butter to grease the pan
Drop in 2 tbsp of batter into the centre of the pan
Keep it on a low-medium flame and once you see bubbles on the surface of the batter, flip it around
Allow it to cook on the other side till its golden brown
Serve with chopped fruits and pour the syrup over it

Friday, February 15, 2013

Spinach Frittata

There was a unexpected drizzle this morning and it was most welcome, since it has started getting pretty warm for a couple of days now. There was this parent-educator meet at my son's school and he had the day off, which meant I didn't have to wake up at 5.30 in the morning !
To complement this lovely weather, and with the time I hand on hand in the morning, I decided to make a frittata.
Frittata is something between an omelette and a quiche. It has eggs, cheese, veggies / meat and is cooked in a pan and served as wedges, like in a quiche.

spinach frittata

I made it with just four eggs for the three of us. Served it with some salad, oranges, toast and tea. After this breakfast, we were too full to think of lunch and then we were off to his school, which is a little far away. We had to meet all the teachers and by the time we were back home, it was almost 4 pm. Luckily this breakfast / brunch kept us going through more than half the day.
And the meeting with the teachers went off well, thankfully.

Its really simple to whip up and packed with protein, iron and calcium. Works as a great idea to pack in your lunch box too. You can get creative with what you'd like to add in this - mushrooms, cooked chicken, peppers / capsicum, onions, anything that you'd like. You need a round pan that's slightly deep, to cook this in, and you're all set.

I had lost a good number of pics in blogger and am still trying to take new pics and upload them in the posts. Here's one for a simple corn and methi pulao.

Spinach Frittata
(Serves 3)

What you need -

4 eggs
3-4 tbsp milk
2 tbsp grated cheese
salt (since there is cheese, go easy on the salt)
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 cup chopped spinach leaves
6-8 cherry tomatoes (optional)
1 tsp flour / maida (optional)
1-2 tsp olive oil

What you do with it -

Beat the eggs. If using the flour (just in case you are short on eggs), add it to the milk and then beat along with the eggs
You can easily omit the flour and just beat the eggs with the milk
Once the eggs are beaten well and is all fluffy, add the spinach, salt, pepper and cheese
Beat to combine all the ingredients
Chop the cherry tomatoes in half or use them whole
Heat a skillet / deep pan. I use a copper-bottom pan that's about 6" in diameter and about an inch deep.
Sprinkle the pan with some olive oil
Pour the entire egg mixture in the skillet and then place the cherry tomatoes over it
Add a few drops of olive oil at the sides
Allow it to cook on a low flame for about 10-12 mins, till the top settles well
If you are using a large pan, it may take longer to cook. It the top does not set, and the bottom is browned enough, you can allow it to bake in a oven for 2-3 mins just so you don't have the eggs very runny at the top
I covered the pan and allowed it to cook and it took about 12 mins
Cut in wedges and serve with a salad and some toast or just enjoy it as is

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Nutella banana oat smoothie

Winter is officially over in my part of the world. Its back to being about 35 C in the day again and its just going to get hotter now. Its time to start up on all those cold salads and cooling drinks.
Here's a delicious and energy boosting drink I made for my little footballer. He likes milk. He loves bananas. He loves loves loves Nutella. The only thing he doesn't really like is oats.
I am not too fond of it myself, so maybe I haven't even really tried giving it to him. I don't like having oats and milk, though I powder the oats and use it making bread, dosas, idlis, muffins,...anything other than having it as is.

nutella banana oat smoothie

After all the running and sweating it out in his football sessions, I like to give him something he likes, something that's healthy and something nutritious enough. A cold glass of smoothie with bananas, milk, oats and Nutella sounded perfect
I had never used oats in a drink earlier and wasn't sure how it would really turn out. I just used a tablespoon of it here and the smoothie was over really fast, so I may add a little more next time.

Adding oats does make it thicker and changes the texture of the drink, so don't really add too much. A tablespoon or slightly more per glass should work just fine.

Nutella banana oat smoothie

What you need -

1 tbsp oats powdered (I used Quakers quick cooking oats)
3/4 cup cold milk
1 banana
2 tsp Nutella
5-6 ice cubes
1 tsp sugar (add more if required)

What you do with it -

Peel and chop the bananas
Add all the ingredients and run it thru the blender for 2-3 mins
Take a little Nutella and smear it in the inside of the glass and then pour the smoothie into it
Top it with a few chocolate chips if you'd like

Monday, February 11, 2013

Strawberry and chocolate chip muffins

My son and his best friend meet up almost every day. They are of the same age, have the same energy levels and love to play together every evening.
She likes to draw and he likes to play something that involves running all over the house. She is very methodical and he strews his room with toys. They have their fights and threaten never to play again, but it lasts for about 5 minutes.
She comes over and we have a little chat, where she reports everything that happened at her school and on some days, if I am baking something, she checks what it is and asks if it will get ready before she leaves.
She loves strawberries, he likes chocolate. Luckily they both like muffins, so I decided to combine both in this muffin, which I made specially for them.

strawberry and chocolate chip muffins1

I had picked up this muffin pan about 3 years back. The moulds are deeper and more narrow than the ones in regular muffin pans and I really liked the look of it. I lugged it all the way back only to discover that it didn't fit it into my microwave oven, where I did all my baking. I was very disappointed, but decided that one day when I do buy an OTG, it will be big enough to fit this. I finally did buy my OTG (Morphy Richards, 40l) and this pan fits. I got to use this muffin pan now. Finally.


With beautiful strawberries all over the market, I land up buying them once a week and then spend the next couple of days figuring what I'll make with it. Most times, I land up wasting so many because they just don't last long enough. This time I decided to use them up the day I bought them and made these muffins.

strawberry and chocolate chip muffins

The batter also has strawberry purée, which gives it a nice colour and a lovely taste. Its a nice soft muffin that kids would really enjoy.

Strawberry and chocolate chip muffins

What you need -

10-12 strawberries
1.5 cups maida / flour
1/2 cup butter / oil
1/2 -3/4 cup milk
15-20 chocolate chips
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
a pinch of salt

What you do with it -

Purée about 6 strawberries and chop the rest into small pieces
In a large bowl, add the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda
Pre heat the oven to 170 (or 180) and grease the muffin pan or line with muffin holders
Blend the butter with the sugar till it dissolves well
Add this to the strawberry purée along with the oil
Add 1/2 cup milk and then add the flour and mix in together
If it is too dry, add the remaining milk, spoon by spoon till you get the right consistency
Add the strawberry pieces and chocolate chips and stir one more time
Spoon into the muffin pan, till it reaches about 3/4 level
Bake for about 18 - 20 mins
(I use 180 C for pre-heat and baking in the convection mode of my microwave oven. In the OTG, I pre-heat for 10 mins at 170 C and then bake at 170 C for about 12-15 mins)
Once done, allow it to cool slightly and then turn it out of the pan

Friday, February 1, 2013

Feta and tomato salad with a basil vinaigrette

This salad was part of the meal with the pizza I made over the weekend. Feta cheese is a deliciously soft, white cheese with a tangy salty flavour. It is made from sheep / goat milk and Greek in origin.
I am not too much of a cheese person, but this one cheese I really like. Its really soft and crumbly and goes great in a salad, though I've used it on my pizza too !

feta and tomato salad in a basil vinaigrette

Feta is pretty expensive here in India and available in select stores. I had this little pack that has been around for a while now and was waiting to use it in something really nice. I also had this unopened bottle of balsamic vinegar, so this was the day for all my 'gourmet' ingredients to get used !

The basil vinaigrette was a wonderful dressing on the salad. The flavour really enhanced the taste of the feta and the tomatoes. This is lovely salad for a lunch. Wish I had some bread around to soak up that remaining vinaigrette, it was really good.

What you need -

3 firm large tomatoes
100 gm feta cheese

For the basil vinaigrette

1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
pinch of salt (really a pinch, because the feta is salty)
3 cloves of garlic
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp mustard sauce
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 cup olive oil

What you do with it -

Blend all the ingredients listed under 'basil vinaigrette' except olive oil
Mix into the olive oil and stir in well
Chop the tomatoes into half and then quarters
Cut the feta cheese into little cubes
Place the tomato and feta in a bowl and pour the basil vinaigrette over it
Using a large spoon and mix in gently
Add more olive oil if required
Sprinkle a few basil leaves over it
Serve cold


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