Yogurt is a complete protein (it contains all essential amino acids) and is also a healthy source of calcium, magnesium, and other essential vitamins. More importantly its active bacterial cultures aid in digestion. No wonder it’s an important part of any Indian meal.
Making yogurt at home is very simple and it will also save you some bucks. Like most other homemade things, you will love the yogurt you will make at home because
- It tastes much better
- Its healthier with no added preservative, sugar or any thing else you don’t recognize as food
- It’s as much Organic and Natural as the milk and the yogurt you use.
- It’s fresh
- It’s less expensive.
If you use whole milk, you will get fuller, creamier and thicker yogurt and these qualities reduce as the percentage of fat in the milk used. So I generally add some whole milk to 2% to make yogurt with better consistency. I don’t believe in zero-fat foods so I haven’t tried making zero-fat yogurt at home.
Before we make yogurt, let’s see if you know the answer to this question. If we have 1 cup of milk and 1 cup of yogurt, which one do you think has more moisture or more water content? The right answer is they both contain equal amount of moisture. The yogurt contains about 86% of water and milk contains about 87% of water.
So how do we obtain yogurt from milk? We add a small quantity of starter yogurt which contains active bacteria to the milk and let it sit for a while with a lid on it. You will notice there is hardly any evaporation so the moisture content in the milk is preserved. So what happens is when you add the bacteria and let it ferment the milk, the bacteria eat the lactose (the sugar found in milk) and produce lactic acid. The lactic acid will reduce the pH of the milk to 4 to 4.6. Finally it reaches an isoelectric point for the protein when the protein starts coming together and forming a kind of gel matrix. The gel matrix entraps the moisture and you have your yogurt. It’s the protein structure which gives the yogurt its firm consistency and due to the lactic acid, it’s not good if you have acidity issues. In fact it will increase your Pitta if you have sour yogurt without any sugar.
Lactic acid formation definitely benefits from heat. Hence in warmer climates as in certain parts of India, it takes only 3-4 hours for yogurt to set. But if you live in colder regions such as USA, you will have to do something extra to get the temperature right.
Let’s first look at the basic step to make homemade yogurt. You just need two ingredients
The healthy source of protein and calcium!
Preferably use homemade yogurt. (Ask your friends!) Store bought yogurt doesn't always work as it may not contain sufficient bacterias and contains added preservatives.
- Add milk to a medium steel pan and bring it to a boil.
- Let it sit aside to cool down.
- When it's lukewarm add the yogurt and stir the milk in one direction, so that it mixes well.
- Now cover it and let it sit for 4-5 hours. Don't disturb the pot and strictly no peeping!.
To maintain the temperature of the milk, here are some things you can do.
- Preheat oven to 250F and keep the pot inside the oven for 3-4 hours. Switch off the oven as soon as it’s preheated. The heat is sufficient for the bacterias to start doing their job.
- Keep the pot in the sun, it will help only if it’s warm.
- Cover the pot with a blanket and keep it in a warmer area of your kitchen. You might have to keep it overnight.
Once it’s set store it in the refrigerator and make sure you consume it within 3-4 days. For next batch you can now use your homemade yogurt as a starter.
- I love plain yogurt mixed with a pinch of sugar, salt and cumin-coriander powder.
- Blackberries blended with yogurt, topped with honey makes a great breakfast smoothie.
- You can also enjoy it by making raita with cucumber, carrots or onion or try some fruits such as apples or pineapple.
- If you feel adventurous, try this simple pumpkin raita recipe.
- Buttermilk is my favorite after-dinner drink and it’s also a refreshing summer drink!
A healthy festive drink!
Last Monday we celebrated Akshay Trutiya, a religious occasion which calls for a sweet treat. “Akshay” means the never diminishing in Sanskrit and this day falls on the third Tithi (Lunar day) of Bright Half (Shukla Paksha) of the Indian month of Vaishakha and one of the 3 and 1/2 “the most auspicious days” or also known as “Sade-Teen Muhurt” considered by Hindus. It’s believed that Akshay Trutiya was the day when Lord Ganesha started writing epic Mahabharata to Ved Vyasa’s dictation. It’s considered auspicious to start a new venture or a new job, buy new property and jewelry too.
Every year my aajji used to celebrate Akshay trutiya by buying a gold coin and visiting the Vishnu temple. And I used to wait for her to come back so that I could get the prasad – the sweets! She tried making new sweets every time and this Moong Kheer (Porridge) was one of those innumerable treats I have had from her.
Traditionally it’s served warm but I like it chilled too. A very simple lentil kheer with just over 3 ingredients. Easy to make yet rates quite high on healthy spectrum which is quite unusual for an Indian sweet.Here is what you need.
A festive healthy drink! the two words fit in one sentence quite rarely!
- Lightly toast the moong dal with some ghee in a heavy bottom pan on medium heat. Do not let them turn brown. You should be able smell their nutty aroma.
- Add one cup of water to moong dal and pressure cook it for 2 whistels. They should be well cooked with very little water left in your cooking pot. It will have soft and smushy texture.
- Meanwhile, add jaggery in 1/2 cup water an dlet it dissolve completely. Strain the mixture in order to separate any impurities. Keep it aside.
- Using a potato masher or churner, mash the lentils so they become creamy but still have some bits in it.
- Put these cooked lentils and the jaggery solution in a pan and let it come to a boil, stirring frequently. Turn down the heat and let it simmer for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure it does not stick to the bottom and burn.
- Add the milk and stir till mixed well, and turn up the heat a bit. Bring it to a boil, and let it cook for another minute.
- Take it off the heat and then add the powdered ginger and the cardamom. Stir well.
Let it cool a bit before you pour it in glasses. Serve it warm. This recipe serves 4 to 6 depending on size of serving.
- Toasting helps to bring out the nuttiness which makes the kheer more flavorful. But be careful not to turn them brown or it would overpower the taste.
- Before adding milk, stir frequently as it doen't contain lot of liquid and it may stick to the bottom and burn.
- Add basil leaves and a pinch of saffron before serving. Adds another dimension to the simple flavors.
I recently came to know that this is also known as Parippu Kanji or Paruppu Kanji where “parippu” is lentils and “kanji” is porridge in Tamil and it’s almost synonymous to Shivratri in some communities. I think it completely makes sense. The kheer made of moong dal, a rich source of protein yet easy on digestion system and jaggery which is unrefined sugar, high in energy, added with milk, sounds like a perfect recipe which is light but nutritious for a fasting day. Enjoy your healthy treat!
A drink that makes every morning a good morning!
We seem to be sacrificing more of our time and energy to our high-speed wireless culture and as a result exhaustion has become a familiar aspect of our lives. All too often we forget to take care of ourselves. How many times you consider yourself an important part of your life? Making room in your frantic schedule for some downtime is equally important as intentionally replenishing your energy with healthy and wholesome food.
Here is my recipe for an energizing drink, a perfect start for your day! It contains just 4 simple ingredients, natural sugar. And if you are searching for those buzz words, yes it’s high in protein and fibre.
There is a small preparation involved, but the gains are sweet! Soak all the ingredients in water / milk on previous night. Dates provide the perfect sweetness with no added sugar. Almonds give some bite to this nourishing milkshake.
Almond Energy Drink
Soak almonds in 1/2 cup of water overnight. No need to refrigerate almond.
In a medium bowl, add 1/2 cup milk and 2 dates, roughly chopped. Mix 1 tsp of poppy seeds and keep it in the refrigerator overnight.
When you are ready to treat yourself, peel the almond skin off and roughly chop them. In a blender all almonds, and the soaked dates and poppy seeds with the milk. Add more milk if you wish. Blend everything together.
Enjoy your nourishing drink!
According to Ayurveda, almonds are energizing, nourishing and the only “satvic” nuts which do not increase “rajas” or “tamas” properties in our body. Also Date is the only fruit allowed to be paired with milk as it doesn’t contain any vitamin C that would react adversely with milk. Poppy seeds, the tiny little seeds also known as “Khas Khas” in Marathi, are a good source of dietary fibre and are also rich in minerals like Calcium, Manganese and Phosphorous.
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Happy mothers day!
The inspiration for this smoothie came from the ‘Power Juice’ recipe by Chef Parag. He used beet root and carrot juice together with lemon juice. I was looking for a creamy texture so instead of just using juices I decided to make a smoothie. Needless to mention it’s loaded with vitamins and mineral from beet root and carrots and hence the name! To make sure it’s perfectly sweetened I used dried figs and dried apricots and also raisins, I know I am genius 🙂 The result was outstandingly creamy, sweet, a beautiful pink smoothie which we have made a regular part of our diet!
Very low in calories AND fat, rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, magnesium and dietary fibre, contain no added sugar; perfect as breakfast smoothie or even as a dessert!
Beetroot Carrot Smoothie aka VitaMAX Smoothie
A rich, creamy smoothie with no added sugar!
Serves : 2
- In a small bowl, take all dried fruits such as figs and apricots and raisins and and also cashews and add enough milk to immerse all contents. Soak the fruits in milk overnight or for 6-7 hours. Keep it refrigerated.
- Peel a beetroot and also cut both the ends. Then cut it into quarters.
- Peel carrots if needed, cut both ends and chop them roughly.
- Stem these veggies in a steamer for about 10 minutes or until they become tender.
- Once steamed, let them cool down a bit. Optionally add these to cold water to quicken cooling process.
- In a blender, add steamed carrots, beetroot and the soaked dried fruits. Also add the milk used for dried fruits.
- Blend everything together. Add more milk as needed.
Linking it to Foodomania’s Christmas Cook-Off Contest
Grown in Mexico, Chia was a staple diet of the Aztecs and Mayans. The seeds nutrients provided sustained energy during lng hunts and had numerous medicinal benefits. Revered by the people, Chia was often used in religious ceremonies which led to its ban by the Spanish during their conquest of the region.
In the list of rediscovered forgotten foods, the Chia seeds have topped the “Super-foods” category. The oval shaped, nutty flavored seeds are packed with ALA(alpha-linolenic acid) an Omega-3 essential fatty acids (150%) and fibre (16%)
Chia seeds are extremely easy to consume, you can add these to oatmeal, yogurt, salads or soups. They gain a unique texture when soaked in water or milk. Their soluble fiber forms a gel that thickens milk or other liquids. Try this pudding recipe and you will start loving chia seeds!
Rose Chia Pudding
No pudding recipe can be healthier than this.
- Add chia seeds and milk in a big bowl and mix them well.
- Keep the seeds soaked in milk overnight in a refrigerator Also keep these covered with a lid.
- Next morning, when ready to serve, add other ingredients. Top the mixture with coconut and keshar masala.
- I used Everest Keshar masala that contains almonds, pistachios, keshar (saffron) and cardamom.
- The Rose syrup I used had sugar. You can adjust the amount of honey / sugar according to your tast
Winter is here and so is the smell of fresh Methi leaves. Fenugreek, widely known as “Methi” in India, is a leafy vegetable with small green leaves mainly grown in winter. It’s the bitter taste of its leaves and seeds that makes it so unique.
Methi Malai Mutter as the name says, is rich and flavorful. The slight sweetness of green peas (mutter) and the richness of cream (malai) well compliment the bitterness of methi leaves.
Since I didn’t have cooking cream, I decided to use a healthier and an easily available alternative – cashew cream and the result was outstanding. You have to try it to believe me. Here is what you need.
Methi Malai Mutter
An aromatic combination of fresh methi leaves with green peas cooked together in cashew cream sauce.
- Separate the leaves from stem and wash them well. Sprinkle some salt and keep them aside.
- In a small bowl, take cashews and poppy seeds and let them soak in milk.
- In a small pan, mix all dry masala (cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, black peppercorns and 1/2 tsp cumin seeds) and roast them lightly for 2-3 minutes on low flame.
- Add roughly chopped onion, freshly grated ginger, garlic, green chilies and 1/2 tsp cumin seeds with a pinch of salt in a grinder and make a smooth paste.
- Heat a medium pan and add 2 table spoon of oil. Once oil becomes hot, add 1/2 tsp cumin seeds and let them crackle.
- Meanwhile, squeeze out all the liquid from methi leaves and give them a quick chop. Add these leaves to the oil and cook them for 3 to 4 minutes.
- Once done, remove the leaves from the pan and keep aside.
- Add remaining 1 tb spoon oil to the pan. Now add the onion-garlic paste and fry it nicely for 5-6 minutes.
- Strain the milk and add cashews and poppy seeds to grinder and make a smooth paste. Add few spoons of milk if needed.
- Add this cashew cream to the pan and fry for 1 minute.
- Heat the leftover milk and let it simmer.
- Add the fresh garam masala (the roasted masala finely powdered) to the pan and mix well.
- Add the milk and some water to adjust the consistency.
- Add thawed green peas or boiled if using fresh.
- Add fenugreek leaves and mix well
- Add salt, a pinch of sugar and a pinch of turmeric and let it come to a boil.
- When you soak the cashews in milk, microwave it for 30 seconds, so cashews absorb the milk quicker and become tender.
- Once the subji is done, sprinkle a pinch of kasuri methi (dry fenugreek leaves) of additional aroma.
Hearty and Healthy twist to traditional pancakes
Imaging a light fluffy pancake topped with butter, maple syrup, whipped cream and fresh berries…. Yum! Pancakes are great for breakfast pleasures but they are not healthy! Today I decided to transform this classic American breakfast into a savory, healthy dish with Indian touch.
I used multi-grain flour instead of all purpose flour. I substituted sugar with salt and red chili powder, stirred in lots of veggies like finely chopped spinach, cilantro, tomatoes and red onions with some coriander-cumin powder together with fennel seeds and ajwain seeds for an extra kick. The result? Outstandingly tasty and healthy pancakes – made from scratch!
Hearty and Healthy twist to traditional pancakes
You can buy multi grain flour in Indian stores or Whole Foods Market in bulk section. Whole wheat flour works too.
Finely chop spinach leaves, a tomato and about a half medium red onion.
Mix all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Whisk an egg in a separate bowl and add it to the dry ingredients. Next goes milk. Whisk until smooth batter forms. Then stir in all veggies. The batter should be spoonable but not pourable. Adjust the consistency by adding either spoonful of water or flour as needed.
Heat a skillet over medium-high flame, add little oil or use non-stick oil spray.
Place a ladle full of batter on the skillet and spread it into a pancake. Cook until the wet side of pancake bubbles. Flip and cook the other side for another 2-3 minutes until brown.
These savory pancakes are packed with flavor, good amount of Iron, Calcium, Vitamin A and fibre.
Sending this to Kiran‘s “Cooking with Whole Foods – Spinach” event hosted at cook’s joy.
HITS – Iron rich foods started by Sangee.
And to “Healthy Diet – Breakfast” by Priya’s Versatile Recipes hosted at Roshni’s Kitchen.
Healthy twist to a traditional Maharashtrian dessert
Satori (साटोरी) is a traditional Maharashtrian dessert prepared with khoya, coconut and suji (semolina) stuffed in a poori made with maida. I have given a healthy twist to this traditional sweet dish by adding khajoor (dates), poppy seeds, sesame seeds and dried coconut stuffing inside a puri made with mainly whole wheat flour and some maida. Instead of deep frying, I lightly roasted them with ghee. The result was delicious yet healthy khajoor satori !
खजूर साटोरी (Stuffed Dates Paratha)
A modern and healthy twist to traditional Maharashtrian dessert!
- Chop pitted dates as small as possible.
- Roast sesame seeds in a small frying pan until they become lightly brown. Keep aside and let them cool
- In the same pan, heat 1/2 table spoon of ghee and roast poppy seeds for 3-4 minutes on low flame. Once done, keep them aside and let them cool.
- Again add 1/2 teaspoon oil and roast the grated coconut until the color changes to light brown. Coconut gets browned quickly so keep an eye on it and stir constantly. Let it cool down. Crush the roasted coconut with hands or in a grinder.
- Then add 2-3 tablespoon of ghee and roast chopped dates for 5 minutes. The dates become tender, now mix all above ingredients. Mix well for 2-3 minutes. You can make this stuffing well in advance and it can also be preserved in an airtight jar for few months.
- When you are ready to roll the satoris, mix whole wheat flour, maida and a pinch of salt.
- Heat the oil and mix it in the flour. This hot oil is also know as “mohan”, it helps the mixture to become lighter and fluffier.
- Stir in warm milk and knead the dough for a few minutes to make smooth and firm dough. Keep it aside for half an hour.
Satori / Stuffed paratha –
- Divide the dough and stuffing in 5 equal sized balls. Stuffing balls can be larger than dough balls.
- Roll a dough ball to make around 3 inch diameter circle, put a stuffing ball and seal all sides as we do in any stuffed paratha. Roll it to make a think puri (around 5 inch diameter puri).
- Repeat this for all 5 parts.
- Heat a medium size skillet and add 1 teaspoon of ghee. Place a satori over the skillet. After few seconds, flip the satori and lightly press the puffed areas. Flip it couple of times. It will develop golden-brown spots. Take it out on a plate lined with paper towel to absorb extra ghee. Repeat it for other satoris.
Satoris can be enjoyed warm or cold. Bon apetite!