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Why use spices?

Spices offer exotic flavours to food, and flavourful food is divine. But spices are not just used to appease our taste.In fact, some spices can be a real boost to the body, and help rid it of toxins. Here are some benefits of spices used in most of my recipes:

1. Turmeric (haldi): Curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric. It has powerful anti-inflammatory effects and is a very strong antioxidant. Arthritis, joint pains, and Alzheimer are some of the known medical problems that turmeric helps in curing. It has been used in India for ages for cosmetic benefits like bringing radiance to skin, curing acne and skin related medical problems.
2. Cloves (laung): Anti-viral, Anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, aphrodisiac, source of many minerals, and Omega-3 fatty acids
3. Cumin seeds (jeera): helps remove toxins, helps with digestion, lactation, common cold, diabetes, insomnia, prevents memory loss.
4. Bay leaf (tez patta): boosts immunity, improves nervous system function, protects oral health, regulates body metabolism and prevents blood-related conditions like anemia.
5. Star Anise (chakraphool): antioxidant, rich in vitamins and minerals like iron, potassium, copper, and manganese. Has stomachic, anti-spasmodic, antiseptic, digestive, expectorant, and stimulant properties. Helps to increase the circulation and oxygenation of body parts.
6. Caraway Seeds (ajwain): improve digestion, reduce constipation, lowers blood cholesterol, reduces bloating, belching, gas and gas pains and improves blood pressure. A source for thiamine, pyridoxine, riboflavin, and niacin, iron, copper, calcium, potassium, manganese, selenium, zinc and magnesium. This is most commonly used as a safe treatment in India for stomach related medical problems for infants and kids.
7. Cardamom (elaichi): Aids in digestion and increased frequency and volume of urination, reduces spasms, lowers blood pressure and increases metabolism. A source of vitamins and minerals like riboflavin, niacin, vitamin C, iron, manganese and potassium.
8. Cinnamon (dal chini): Reduces inflammation, eliminates pain and infections, manages diabetes, reduces bloating, belching, gas and gas pains , increases cognitive function, good for bones, prevents cancer and good for the health of eyes and skin.

These are all mild flavoured spices used commonly in an Indian household. All of these are easily available in asian grocery stores all over the world. It is also good to know that they are quite inexpensive.

Spices should be used according to personal preferences/palates and in moderate quantities.

Featured

Easiest Homemade Dhokla

SERVES: 4

GLUTEN FREE

Why this recipe? How is it green? How am I contributing to making this earth green by following four steps or less recipes?

Quick to make, great to store, quick to steam in a pressure cooker or in microwave. 

Dhokla is chickpea flour steamed savoury cake. It is one of the most healthy snacks to have at a time when you carve for something savoury but do not want to have some off the shelf that has pastry flour or shortening in abundance.

COOKING TIME- 5-10 minutes

INGREDIENTS:
2 tablespoon oil
100 grams Besan (chickpea flour)
½ cup yogurt
150 ml water
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder (optional)
1 teaspoon salt
1 inch frozen or fresh grated ginger
2 teaspoon of sugar
3-4 figs of fresh coriander or parsley
1 tablespoon mustard seeds(for garnish)
2-3 green chillies

You will need a regular vegetable steamer or a microwaveable dish that you can use steam the dhokla.

dhoklaSTEPS
1. Mix oil, yogurt, 50 ml of water, chickpea flour, turmeric powder and salt in a mixing bowl and leave it for 10-15 minutes.
2. This mixture has to be steamed for 8-10 minutes in a regular steamer or 5 minutes in microwave. Just before pouring the mixture in the steamer mould, add antacid powder to the mixture and stir it for a minute, you will see it will start coming up because of the soda in antacid powder.
3. While the steaming is on, take a separate small pan and add 1 teaspoon of oil, mustard seeds and split whole green chillies, once splattering starts, add 100 ml of water and sugar to it. Let it cook for 2 minutes.
4. Let the steamed dhokla cake cool down for 5-10 minutes and then pour this sweetened water mixture on it before you cut it into pieces to serve. Sprinkle fresh coriander or parsley before serving.

HANDY TIPS:
1. Dhokla goes very well with spicy hot and sweet chutneys and home made dips.
2. This snack is considered one of the most healthy and nutritive ones as it is steamed.

Quickest Shahi Paneer ever- with a vegan option- No Ghee- No Butter

This is the easiest and a quick recipe for a complicated sounding yet most popular Indian delicacy. People in love with aroma of spices appreciate this preparation the most. Read through handy tips at the end of the recipe to try out vegan and no fat options. 

SERVES: 4

Why this recipe? How is it green? How am I contributing to making this earth green by following four steps or less recipes?

Using Pressure Cooker will take 5-7 minutes whereas it will take 20-25 minutes in a regular pan. 

You save: 40% of fuel energy and 20 minutes of your precious time that may be about 20 to 30% of the total time you spend in kitchen on an average (assuming you spend a total of 1-2 hours in a day in the kitchen)

INGREDIENTS:

1 tablespoons oil
1 cinnamon stick (small)
1 star Anise
1 brown cardamom
5 pieces of cloves
1 teaspoon of tandoori masala
3 medium tomatoes cut very small (preferable pureed)
½ kilo paneer (cottage cheese, feel free to replace it with Tofu, I love it)
1 inch frozen garlic or 2 crushed cloves
2 inch frozen or 25 grams fresh grated ginger
1 teaspoon red chilly powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon sugar
20 cashews or almonds (powdered)
200ml full cream milk (I usually make it with low fat milk)

STEP 1. Put all whole spices into heated oil, sauté until brown, should take about a minute or less.
STEP 2. Add small cut tomato/puree, red chilli and sugar and cover pot, let simmer for 3-4 minutes before you add powdered nuts with ¼ glass of water and put pressure cooker lid. Cook for 3-5 minutes in Pressure Cooker until pressure builds up. In an regular pot with lid it will take about 15-20 minutes.
STEP 3. Remove whole spices and run the hand grinder for 1 to 2 minutes right into the pan to make gravy smooth.
STEP 4. Add paneer pieces and half cup of cream/milk to curry as it becomes thick. Let it boil for 5 minutes before you serve.

HANDY TIPS:
1. You can replace cashew nuts/almonds with peanuts or other nuts as per your taste.
2. You may want to garnish it with cut fresh coriander leaves and if you don’t care about making it lean (fat free), feel free to add a tablespoon of fresh cream or butter while serving. For vegan options replace milk with soy milk, coconut milk or almond milk and paneer with Tofu.

Tandoori Roti in Toaster

SERVES: 3-4

Quick Light Fresh Baked Bread

COOKING TIME: 5-7 minutes

INGREDIENTS: 
400 grams whole wheat flour
200 ml water
5-10 drops of oil

STEPS:
STEP 1.  Add water to the flour, make dough soft enough that is not sticking to your hands. Take oil on your hand and roll the dough with greased palm to finish. Rest the dough for at least 15-20 minutes before making roti.
STEP 2.  Make balls of dough for the size and thickness that you want the roti to be. Roll the balls to make roti.
STEP 3.  Place rolled roti on to heated non-stick pan, turn it around when you see brown dots on one side.
Step 4.  Once both sides of the roti have been on the heated pan once, move the roti into the toaster on high setting. Fluffed and crisp tandoori roti will pop out of the toaster.

HANDY TIPS:
1. Add water cautiously to the flour not to make dough too soft. Dough should be hard enough to easily roll the ball with a rolling pin. You can add more dry flour to the dough or give the balls a pat of dry flour on either side before and during rolling it.
2.Keep rolling the dough balls into Roti while one is cooking on the pan so that next one is ready as soon as you move the first one into the toaster.
3.Depending on the size of the the slot of your toaster you may want to cut the roti in half before sliding it into the toaster so that all of it bakes well.

HOT CORIANDER CHUTNEY-हरी भरी धनिया मिर्च चटनी

INGREDIENTS:

1 bunch of fresh coriander/cilantro leaves
10 frozen crushed green chilli chopped
½ small raw green mango chopped (fresh or frozen)
½ lime squeezed
1 pinch asafoetida powder
2 teaspoons Cumin
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon mango powder

THE ONLY STEP:
thumb_IMG_0825_1024

Put everything in a food processor and chop it all up together till you get a chutney

 

 

 

HANDY TIP:
If you do not have raw green mango, replace it with handful of dried roasted chickpea, or peanuts or cashews or any other nuts. Raw mango gives the right density and sour flavour to the chutney. The flavour will vary if you replace with another ingredient, you may want to add a little more of mango powder or lemon juice to get cover the sour side of the chutney. Just be creative..

Quick Savoury Gluten Free Crispy Crepe-बेसन सोंधा चिला


Why this recipe?

GLUTEN FREE- loaded with vitamins and minerals

QUICK TO MAKE- Takes 6-10 minutes to cook and come out yum.

This recipe saves you :  your precious time and provides a nutritious snack or breakfast option

You can be creative -add other ingredients like nuts, raisins, tomatoes, cottage cheese, spring onion, chopped spinach or mushrooms.. Amaze yourself and your family by being different each time you try this recipe. For non vegetarians, you could try rolling a sausage or adding sautéed chicken pieces inside the crepe before you serve it or minced cooked meat in the dough.

COOKING TIME : 6-10 MINUTES
SERVES – 2 to 3
Will make 7-8 crepes

INGREDIENTS: 

2 tea spoon oil
200 grams chickpea flour
250 ml glass of water
2 tea spoon salt
1 tea spoon red chilli powder
1 tea spoon garam masala (all Spice)
2 square inch of frozen ginger or fresh grated ginger (optional).
1 small tomato- chopped (optional)
1/2 medium green pepper/capsicum – chopped (optional)
1/2 small onion – finely chopped (optional)
1 handful of chopped fresh coriander leaves (optional)

STEPS

Step 1. Add salt, red chilli powder and garam masala to chickpea flour in a mixing bowl, add water and whisk it well for 2-3 minutes. If adding cut veggies, fold in all chopped veggies.
Step 2. Pour a ladle of mixture on heated non-stick pan surface. (Optional- Put a few drops of oil around the crepe . Let it cook for a minute
Step 3. Turn around the crepe, let it get brown/roasted for about a minute other side as well. It is ready to serve.

HANDY TIPS:IMG_0757
1. You can be creative with adding veggies to this crepe. Spring onion, grated cottage cheese, chopped spinach, green chillies, other herbs, all go well.
2. Adding vegetables will make the crepe more moist and soft.
3. This crepe will go well with spicy or sweet tomato chutney, coriander

Cocothai curry-गरीथाई करी


SERVES: 3-4

Why this recipe?

Gluten Free , Quicker than any quick recipe. Just 3 Steps

COOKING TIME: 6-8 minutes

INGREDIENTS:
1 teaspoon oil
2 teaspoons of sesame seeds(white til seeds)
1 tablespoon of Thai curry paste (Red, Green or Yellow)
1 can of coconut milk or coconut cream
500 grams of mixed frozen vegetables or fresh mixed veggies

STEP 1. Put sesame seeds in heated oil. Stir for 30 seconds and add thai curry paste to it.

STEP 2. Thaw frozen veggies in microwave for 2-3 minutes or steam fresh veggies with a cover in microwave for 2-3 minutes.

STEP 3:Add coconut milk, thawed frozen vegetables and salt. Keep it on the heat for 2-3 minutes with lid covered. Let it simmer for 3-4 minutes with lid covered.

HANDY TIPS:thumb_IMG_0381_1024
1. You can add boneless chicken or any other meat to make it a non-vegetarian option.
2. This preparation can be served as a soup, a topping on grilled veggies or meats or as curry to go with rice or with roti, naan or bread.
3. Bring your creative side to play and add some flavourful herbs like lemon basil, rosemary, cilantro or dill.
4. If you do not have readymade curry paste, make a paste with ginger, green chillies and fresh curry leaves or coriander leaves for a green curry.

Coconut Veggie – Cocotom curry-तु॑गटम सब्ज़ी


SERVES: 3-4

Why this recipe?

Gluten Free , Quicker than a quick recipe. 

COOKING TIME: 6-8 minutes

INGREDIENTS:
1 teaspoon oil
2 teaspoons of mustard seeds
5-10 tender curry leaves
2 medium sized chopped tomatoes
1 can of coconut milk or coconut cream
500 grams of mixed frozen or fresh vegetables
½ teaspoon of red chilli powder
1 square inch of frozen chopped green chilli
2 square inch of frozen grated ginger or 25 grams fresh ginger

STEP 1. Put mustard seeds and curry leaves in heated oil. Stir for 30 seconds to a minute.
STEP 2. Add chopped tomatoes, ginger, green chilli and red chilli powder and let it simmer for 2 minutes with lid covered.
STEP 3. Thaw frozen vegetables or steam fresh veggies in microwave in the meanwhile for 2-3 minutes
STEP 4. Add coconut milk, thawed frozen vegetables and salt. Keep it on the heat for 2-3 minutes with lid covered.

HANDY TIPS:thumb_IMG_0374_1024
1. You can add boneless chicken or any other meat to make it a non-vegetarian option.
2. This preparation can be served as a soup, a topping on grilled veggies or meats or as curry to go with rice or with roti, naan or bread.
3. Bring your creative side to play and add some flavourful herbs like lemon basil, rosemary, cilantro or dill.

CRUMBLED COTTAGE CHEESE (paneer)-पनीर का कीमा


Why this recipe?

GLUTEN FREE- LOADED WITH CALCIUM -QUICK TO MAKE

This is a quicker than any quick recipe.  Takes 4-5 minutes to cook and come out yum.

This recipe saves you :  your precious time and provides a nutritious option, more so if you even make the cottage cheese at home. https://fourstepsorless.com/2016/04/06/quick-home-made-cottage-cheese/

Gives you a chance to be creative -add any ingredients like nuts, raisins, peas or mushrooms.. really depends on how innovative you can be..

SERVES: 3-4
COOKING TIME: 4-5 MINUTES
INGREDIENTS:

1/2 tablespoon oil
2 green (elaichi)cardamom
2 cloves (laung)
2 strings of spring onion chopped small
2 medium tomatoes (cut in small pieces)
½ kilo paneer (cottage cheese) broken up or grated
1 teaspoon red chilly powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
¼ teaspoon garam masala
1 inch of frozen chopped green chill (optional)
10-15 craisins or raisins (optional)
Coriander leaves

STEP 1: Put cardamom and cloves in heated oil, add tomato and red chilli powder as soon as these get brown (will take 20-30 seconds) and cover the pan to simmer for 2 minutes.
STEP 2. Add spring onion, paneer (cheese), salt and turmeric powder, sauté and let it simmer for 2 minutes for flavours to permeate.
STEP 3. Add coriander leaves before you serve.

HANDY TIPS:thumb_IMG_0017_1024

Make sure you do not overcook paneer (cheese) as it tastes best when soft and moist.

You could be creative and add a few raisins, craisins or nuts of your choice to the recipe.

 

Sarson Saag -Mustard/Rapini/Broccoli Medley – प॑जाबी शान-सरसो॑ का साग


SERVES: 4

GLUTEN FREE- LOADED WITH MINERALS AND FIBRE -QUICK TO MAKE

Why this recipe? How is it green and quick? How am I contributing to making this earth green by following this four steps or less recipe?

Using Pressure Cooker will take 10 minutes whereas it will take 15-30 minutes in a regular pan. 

Using frozen chopped spinach, fenugreek leaves, garlic, green chilli and ginger will save 10-12 minutes of your time.

By using this recipe you save: 50% of fuel energy and 15 minutes of your precious time that is about 5 to 8% of the total time you spend in kitchen on an average (assuming you spend a total of 2-3 hours in a day in the kitchen)

COOKING TIME: 10 Minutes

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 tablespoon oil
1 cinnamon stick (dal chini)
1 star anise (chakraphool)
1 big cardamom (elaichi)
2 bay leaf (tez patta)
1 bunch of mustard (sarson) / rapini leaves (half kilo) or Broccoli florets
10 frozen spinach (palak) pellets (100 grams)
3 frozen fenugreek (methi leaves) pellets (100 grams) or 50 grams of dried fenugreek (methi) leaves
1 large onion – chopped any size
1 large tomato -chopped any size
1 inch frozen crushed green chilli
2 inch frozen garlic or 4 crushed cloves
2 inch frozen ginger or 50 grams freshly grated ginger
1 tea spoon salt
2 teaspoons red chilli powder
2 tablespoons coriander powder
1.5 teaspoons all spice (garam masala)
Butter dollop or butter oil (ghee) for topping (optional).

STEP 1. Put cinnamon stick (dal chini), star anise (chakraphool), big cardamom (eliachi) and bay leaf (tez patta) into heated oil, let them get brown

STEP 2. Add rest of the ingredients except all spice (garam masala) and cook for 2 whistles in cooker or until everything is tender in a pan (about 10-15 minutes).

STEP 3. Remove whole spices and run the hand grinder for 1 to 2 minutes right into the cooker/pan to make it smooth. You can then put the whole spices back in.

Step 4. Add garam masala and let it simmer for 5 minutes until you see that water has evaporated. Add butter or ghee, if desired.

HANDY TIPS:thumb_IMG_0232_1024
As very little oil is used to prepare this recipe, you can add a dollop of butter or butter oil (ghee) when serving.
You can replace the mustard leaves with fresh or frozen broccoli florets or rapini if the mustard leaves are not available. It will give close to the same original sarson saag (Mustard) taste.