Feb 23, 2010

Rejuve... WHAT?!

Rejuvelac is what you get when you add water to whole wheat berries/ grains and let it ferment for 12 to 16 hours. Sometimes it takes longer depending on the season. The warmer it is, the faster it ferments.

What is it used for?
1. As a drink. Many people on raw food diets drink this because it's rich in eight of the B vitamins, E & K vitamins and also a variety of proteins, carbs, phosphates and so on. It also helps in digestion of food and growth of friendly bacteria.
2. As a starter for vegan curds made with soy milk or peanut milk.
3. As a starter for vegan nut cheeses (which I will be putting up soon).

It can be made with other grains like whole rice, barley (jav), oats and millet. I have only tried wheat and been successful using it. Many people with gluten or wheat allergies have tried whole rice though I haven't and I will soon.

For the Rejuvelac you need:

1 glass jar
1/2 cup whole wheat grains (for your first try)
drinking water

Put the wheat in the jar and rinse it once and remove any grains/ bugs that float to the top. Add the drinking water in such a way that when you look at it, if the jar has 1/3rd wheat the rest should be water.

Let it uncovered for 24 hours outside. I usually keep it in a cupboard. The next day it should look like this...

Don't fret if it is all clear after 12 or 16 hrs. Just stir is and watch it bubble. This water can be removed and stored in another bottle while the same wheat can be used to make more rejuvelac in about 10 hours.

It should smell sour and sweet. It should taste like fermented unsweetened grape juice with lemon.

Store this in the fridge and drink it / use it as a starter for curds or vegan cheese.

Gajar Ka Halwa (Carrot Halwa)


I love carrot halwa and I've never been able to eat it outside since I changed my diet. So I came across this recipe in Dr Vijaya Venkat's recipe book (try getting your hands on it somehow!) and I modified it my way.

For the Halwa you need:

4 Long carrots (Usually availabe in winter. I'd suggest you use it only when it is available seasonally)
1/4 cup melted jaggery syrup (more or less depending on your sweet tooth)
A handful of cashews powdered in a grinder
2 cloves of Cardamom
4-5 Almonds roasted

Steam the carrots as they are. Don't peel them, you could cut them in half if they don't fit in your steaming apparatus. Let them steam for 20 minutes. Don't let it become too soft.

Once they are done steaming let it cool for another 15 minutes or so and then using a grater, grate the carrots. Mix in the jaggery, cashew powder and cardomom. Top with some slivers of roasted Almonds.

It's so much more easier than cooking the carrots in cow's milk for hours and adding bottles of ghee to it.



Feb 11, 2010

Appetizers : Tandoori Vegetables


This is as easy as tandoori can get, it's a quicker and healthier way of doing it too!

You can use any vegetable that's in your fridge and adjust the amounts of vegetables according to the number of people you are making it for.

You need:
  • Onions
  • Tomatoes
  • Capsicums
  • Mushrooms
  • Zucchini
  • Tofu (soya paneer)
  • Steamed/ Boiled Potatoes
  • Steamed/ Boiled Carrots
  • Steamed/ Boiled Arabi / Colocasia
  • Steamed/ Boiled Sweet Potatoes
  • Steamed Okra/ Lady's Finger/ Bhindi
  • Steamed Cauliflower
Anything you like basically.
  • A handful of cashews (optional)
  • Tandoori Masala (Available as Tandoori 'Chicken' Masala in the stores with a green dot, so it's vegetarian!)
  • Salt

Let me explain a few things first before going in to the recipe.
It's always better to steam you vegetables because if you boil them or cook them at a very high temperature you lose out on nutrients. If you don't have a steamer, go buy one or you can buy a vessel with holes at the bottom and put that in a slightly bigger vessel with water. Make sure the water doesn't boil up to the vegetables because then it's as good as boiling them. An even easier thing to do is put it all in cooker vessels and put it in the pressure cooker with water just as you would normally pressure cook rice or daal. Just omit the weight/ whistle when you cover it. Use a steel glass to cover the top and let it cook away and remember every vegetable takes it's own time to cook. So make sure you start steaming vegetables that take longer first and then add in the rest.

The steamer is use is pictured here.

So to start with the tandoori, steam vegetables that you're supposed to and those that can be eaten raw stay raw.

This next step is totally avoidable if you like. It's just to give the vegetables a softer coating so
they become crisper. I've tried it without the cashew and it works fine. Also cashew's are not fattening, at least not as much as curd, which is used as a marinade otherwise, so just give the seed a chance (yes it is a seed).

Put the cashews in a blender with very little water and blend it in to a fine paste.

Add 2 spoons of tandoori masala for every 4 spoons of cashew paste and a little salt. You can add more masala if you like it spicy. Add water and make it to a thick gravy consistency.


If you're not using cashew, use little bit of water with the tandoori masala and salt to make a paste.

Cut all the vegetables in chunks of two inches and de-seed the tomatoes.


In a big bowl, put all the cut vegetables (steamed and raw) add the paste and mix it well so all the vegetables are coated.





Put this in to/ on your grill or just make it on a tawa/ flat pan. You dont have to put any oil just make sure you don't burn it.

When it's crispy on the top, it's done. Squeeze a lime on top and serve.

Feb 9, 2010

Salad Series: Easy Guacamole


Vegan cooking is not so different from cooking non vegan except that you omit a few ingredients (those that come from animals). Indian cooking is easily vegan when you avoid the ghee, paneer, milk, curd and so on.

These are a series of non-fattening, gluten (wheat) free, soy free - vegan recipes many of which will be non-sweet also. (specially for my friend Divya)

I shall begin with a Salad Series with Guacamole (gwahk-ah-mol-lee) my most favourite salad. It is originally a Mexican recipe used as a dip or on top of tacos or even inside tortillas in many different dishes. I like it so much that I have had it at least once a week for 15 weeks in a row last year.

It's addictive and the problem is the avocado is not as nice in Bombay as it is in the south of India where it is grown. It's easier and cheaper to find in say Bangalore, Chennai or Pondicherry.

For the Guacamole you need:

1 Ripe Avocado
1/2 a red or white onion
1 small tomato
1 green chilli (the spicy variety if you like)
salt
1 small lime
Coriander to garnish

Start with the onion, tomato and chilly. Chop everything fine and cut the lime in half. Then move on to the avocado.

The avocado has to be ripe. The way to know is if you press it slightly it gives in. and usually it starts showing dark brown patches and can be fully brown sometimes. If it is still very green and very hard do not cut it. Just wrap it in some newspaper with some bananas and keep checking it everyday.

To cut the avocado, hold it length wise -the place where it would usually be attached to the plant up and the bottom of the fruit should be below. Cut it all the way round starting from the middle of the fruit and keep going down till you come a full circle. The knife should get through the skin with some difficulty and then easily go in until it reaches a seed in the middle of the fruit. Don't try cutting the seed. Just go all the way round the fruit. Now you have two halves of the fruit stuck together. Gently twist the halves and pull them apart. You will have something that looks like this picture below.

Remove the pit with a spoon and then using a knife cut length wise and then breadth wise of the light green flesh of the avocado without cutting the skin. Do this for the other half also and scoop out the flesh with a spoon. Sometimes the avocados have parts that have become over ripe and are blackish almost. I usually don't mind using them unless they look really bad.

Once you have it all scooped out, mash it with a fork till it is less chunky. Add in the chopped onion, tomato, chilli, salt, lime juice and coriander. Mix it well and eat it immediately - for two reasons one is that it's so good (!) and two is that avocado is best eaten when it is fresh. It can't really be stored once it is cut because it tends to become black quickly. It will look like a green mash with bursts of red and green.

The avocado has no particular taste when it is ripe, it takes on the flavour of whatever you add in. When unripe it is bitter. You can modify this recipe to your taste and add red chilli flakes or powder instead of the green or add half a clove of garlic even. The original recipe of guacamole also calls for sour cream which is totally unnecessary I think. Why spoil a perfectly natural food with sour cream?!

You could have it as it is or use it as a dip with khakra, roasted rotis, chips, carrots, cucumbers...


Bonus: How to grow your own avocado!

If you are as enthusiastic as me, save the seed and try growing it. I tried with four and now I have four plants growing and I can't wait for them to bear fruit. Takes at least 4 years I hear. Sigh!

So this is how you sprout the seed. First you have to figure out which side will sprout. If you feel the seed you will see that it is two halves under the brown skin. On one side there will be a slight discolouration and thats where it will sprout. That part had to be slightly immersed in water not drowned.

Take four toothpicks and put it into the seed on four sides with the discoloured side down. Place it on top of a small bowl so that the toothpicks hold the seed up. Put water into it and only cover half an inch of the bottom of the seed like this picture below.

This will take at least two weeks to sprout. Keep it in a warm dark place and let it do it's thing. I changed the water everyday. Slowly the seed will begin to split from below and a small root will emerge.

Keep changing the water and eventually you will need to change the bowl to accommodate the growing root and stem which springs upwards eventually. The picture on the right has the root jutting out and the stem coming out of the left of the seed.

This sprouting doesn't work all the time. I think I got lucky but I also had some seeds which didn't do anything. Keep trying and don't give up on the seed.

Let it keep sprouting till it looks like what it is below.





This is when it is ready to plant. Avocado is a tree so make sure you have enough place to let it grow.


Ok I digressed, this was supposed to be about the guacamole but when you are so addicted to it (as I am) the next best thing is to grow your own avacados!





Feb 7, 2010

What? Where? Why?

After a good friend asked me where do I get the ingredients I use, I realised may be I should explain a bit more and even give brands wherever possible. Also I will try to explain why I use those ingredients.

Margarine: Margarine I use instead of butter for many reasons. It's always better to use plant based products and margarine is one of them. Margarine may not be healthy but it's much more healthier than using butter. Margarine is cholesterol free and anyday better than having butter that's 'fortified' with pesticides, hormones, antibiotics and god knows what.
I use margarine that is available at my local grocery. Generally it comes under a brand called Rajvi or from a local dairy. Whatever I use, I always check the ingredients or call the company if I have any doubts. They are happy to answer your questions believe it or not.

Tofu: Also called Soya Paneer, it is coagulated soy milk and made just as paneer is made but without the use of animal ingredients. Tofu is usually made Firm, Medium or Silken but the Indian brand of tofu is available firm and in two flavours one plain and one spicy. This is available any grocery store or super market. There is also a Japanese import available which is much more expensive but availabe in the three consistencies. If you don't find something always ask the grocer or the store in-charge. They generally know where you can get it or will order it for you if you are lucky.

Soy Milk: Available at all grocery stores and super markets now. Always check the flavour of the soy milk you are buying. I use Staetta because it is free of preservatives but you could use the other local brands. There is a brand that is imported from the U.S. but it is way more expensive.

Oils: While baking I either use oil or margarine. It's important to use non smelly oils like rice bran oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil. Also if the oils are organic and cold pressed it's much more better. Cold pressed oils are available at shops that only deal in oil. In Mumbai, for instance it is available in Crawford Market. Why cold pressed? When oil is made by the usual refining process it is heated. When we buy it and use it, we again heat it and this heating releases carcinogens that we can avoid when we use cold pressed oils.

So that's mostly what basic baking requires and you'll see you don't really have to go out of your way or your choices are not limited if you try cooking vegan.

Feb 2, 2010

Chocolate 'Cheesecake'


Here's the recipe for the pictures I put up on the 30th. It might look complicated but it's not and totally worth the effort!

1 cup ground almonds
1 cup whole wheat flour
2/3 cup margarine

1 package of tofu (200 gms)
1 cup any kind of sugar
5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (the darker the better, I use Hershey's Cocoa Powder)
1/3 cup rice bran oil (or any non smelly oil)
1/2 cup soy milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 165 degrees C. In a bowl mix the ground almonds, whole wheat and margarine with your hands till it resembles tiny bread crumbs. Put it in a springform pie dish which looks like the picture below. If you don't have this you could try putting it in any round baking tin. The only problem will be removing the cake after it's done.

Put this pie crust in the freezer for 10 minutes.

Crumble the tofu into a blender and add in the sugar, cocoa, soy milk, oil and vanilla. Blend it into a smooth creamy paste. Pour this on to the pie crust and bake for about 50 mins or until the filling seems set.

Allow it to cool before you try doing anything to it. Remove it from the pan (I would only try this if I was using the springform) and add whatever nuts you like on top and eat !

Don't worry if you have an excess of the filling. I had too much of it left because my recipe had much more tofu so I've tweaked it here. I took a about 5 one inch pieces of agar agar (china grass),chopped them fine, boiled it in 3 tablespoons of water and added it to the excess filling. I let it set in the fridge till the cheesecake was baked and it was done.

Here's what it looked like (in case you haven't seen it in the older post)







Feb 1, 2010

What's going to be left to eat?

As usual we are left with no choice. The 'Government' as decided to go ahead with BT Brinjal. Monsanto, the American company has laid it's foundation on Indian soil. They are infamous for the forceful genetic modification of the Soybean in America (watch Food Inc. for more details). Their tagline: "The only place where biotech comes alive". Yes! That's because they are inserting scorpion, pig, human, fish genes in to our food. They are known for their arm twisting tactics and pushing American farmers to bankruptcy.

What can we do?
Boycott the brinjal ! The democratic system is of no use in India.
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