Italian Cuisine. · Salads/ Recipes for the Calorie Conscious.

Garbanzo Lettuce Salad with simple Olive Oil Dressing.

Garbanzo Lettuce Sald with Olive Oil Dressing.

A very effective alternative to an evening meal filled with rotis, rice, subzis filled with oil onion and veggies, etc is of course a salad. A salad renders itself very different based on the ingredients, the dressing and the garnish  and instantly provides with 2-3 servings of fresh raw veggies. Romanie Lettuce would always be a main ingredient in my salads at home, as its  an excellent source of vitamin A (notably through its concentration of the pro-vitamin A carotenoid, beta-carotene), vitamin K, folate, vitamin C, manganese, and chromium.

ROmanie Lettuce also scores over iceberg lettuce in terms of having TEN TIMES more beta carotene and lutien and 4 times more folate, apart from scoring higher than Icerberg Lettuce in every other nutriet.

  1. Romaine’s  Vitamin C and beta-carotene content make it a heart-healthy green leaf that can be added to your daily intake.
  2. The fiber in Romaine lettuce adds another plus in its column of heart-healthy effects. In the colon, fiber binds to bile salts and removes them from the body. This forces the body to make more bile, which is helpful because it must break down cholesterol to do so. This is just one way in which fiber is able to lower high cholesterol levels.
  3. Equally beneficial to heart health is Romaine’s  folic acid content.
  4. Romaine lettuce is an excellent source of vitamin A, folate, vitamin C, manganese and chromium. In addition, romaine lettuce is a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin B1, vitamin B2 and the minerals potassium, molybdenum, iron, and phosphorus.

Additional Information:

Always look for tightly packed Romanie Lettuce Heads that are completely green and show no signs of wilting.

Just before use, wash in cold water, pat with a clean kitchen towel and discarding the lower white portion, cut in to bite sized pieces.

Wrap  unsed cleaned lettuce in brown paper/ tissue and store in a ziploc bag in the refrigerator.

INGREDIENTS:

1 Bunch Romanie Lettuce .

1 cup cooked Garbanzo beans.

Handful of chopped Olives.

Monterery Jack Cheese with Jalapeno 1/8 cup. (Garnish).

Dressing:

1/8 Cup Olive Oil.

3 Garlic Cloves Chopped.

Salt.

Freshly Cracked Pepper as per taste.

Dried Oregano – 2 Tsp.

PREPARATION:

  • Roughly chop the romanie lettuce and pop in to the mixing bowl.
  • Add cooked garbanzo (white channa) , chopped olives salt and pepper.
  • In a small cup add the olive oil and to it the finely chopped garlic.
  • To the olive oil, also add cracked pepper and dried oregano.
  • Allow the various flavours to infuse in to the olive oil.
  • Just before serving, add the olive oil dressing to the chopped veggies.
  • Garnish with grated monterey cheese.

HINTS:

I prefer to keep all salads simple and not add too many ingredients and over power so many tastes.

Use of cheese is optional and the type of cheese also depends on the availability. Substitute with mozarella, parmesan or asiago.

Rotis/ Parathas/ Flatbreads.

Super Soft Avocado Parathas.

Super Soft Avocado Parathas.

Our times at Phoenix, AZ will always remain close to our hearts…It was one city, where we had outdoor activities all year old… well, except for maybe a  couple of months in January and February.  Vegetables and fruits in all colours and of all seasons are perennially available all year old. We also had our favourite restaurants specializing in Mexican cuisine. One such restaurant that we were always game to visit, was Macayo`s. . They served authentic Mexican , suited to our palates, extremely refreshing food, filled with tradition and taste. My husband had a special liking for their Guacamole and would always end up asking for seconds. When I read up about Avocados, I was filled with wonder at the information about this fruit.

The avocado is colloquially known as the Alligator Pear, reflecting its shape and the leather-like appearance of its skin. Avocado is derived from the Aztec word “ahuacatl.” The ripe, ready to eat avocado is slightly soft but should have no dark sunken spots or cracks. If the avocado has a slight neck, rather than being rounded on top, it was probably tree ripened and will have better flavor.

A firm avocado will ripen in a paper bag or in a fruit basket at room temperature within a few days. As the fruit ripens, the skin will turn darker. Avocados should not be refrigerated until they are ripe. Once ripe, they can be kept refrigerated for up to a week. If you are refrigerating a whole avocado, it is best to keep it whole and not slice it in order to avoid browning that occurs when the flesh is exposed to air. Browning can be avoided by squeezing a few drops of lemon juice on the open portion.

(Courtesy-WH Foods)

Avocado Shells ...

Health Benefits:

  1. Avocados contain oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat that may help to lower cholesterol.
  2. Avocados are a good source of potassium, a mineral that helps regulate blood pressure. Adequate intake of potassium can help to guard against circulatory diseases, like high blood pressure, heart disease or stroke.
  3. Avocados help greatly to increase the body’s ability to absorb the health-promoting carotenoids that vegetables provide.
  4. One cup of avocado has 23% of the recommended daily value of folate. Studies show that people who eat diets rich in folate have a much lower incidence of heart disease than those who don’t. The vitamin E, monounsaturated fats, and glutathione in avocado are also great for the  heart.
  5. Avocados are the best fruit source of vitamin E, an essential vitamin that protects against many diseases and helps maintains overall health.

Courtesy – WH Foods.

In my opinion, scooped out Avocado has no taste at all, so it would assume the taste of the ingredients that go with it. Incorporating this fruit in to our everyday cuisine was not so difficult.  Avocado parathas turned out soft and flavourful, combining good health and great taste!!!

Avocado Paratha Dough.

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups Whole Wheat Flour.

1 Ripe Avocado.

8-10 Garlic Pods.

1/4 Red Onion.

4 Green Chillies.

1 1/2 Tbsp Lemon Juice.

Pinch of finely chopped cilantro.

Salt.

Water as required.

PREPARATION:

  • Scoop out 2 cups of whole wheat flour. Add salt as required. Set aside.
  • Cut a ripe avocado in half  lengthwise. Gently twist the two halves in opposite direction if you find the flesh clinging to the pit. Remove the pit  with the tip of a spoon .If the avocados are ripe, and  the flesh is too soft to be sliced, just slide a spoon along the inside of the skin and scoop it out placing it in a mixing bowl.
  • With  a zester,  grate 6 garlic pods and add to the scooped avocado.
  • With  the same zester grate onions and green chillies.
  • Add lemon juice, chopped cilantro, pinch of salt.
  • Using a fork, mash the avocados and the other ingredients until they are well incorporated.
  • Mashing the grated onions, chillies, cilantro  and garlic helps in the flavours mixing well with each other.
  • Add this mixture to the flour, and mix well before adding water.
  • Avocado has inherent moisture and oil content which itself helps the dough to mould well.
  • Now add water little by little and knead the dough well.
  • Mix it to a homogenous ball and set aside for 20 minutes under a covered vessel.
  • Later, divide the dough in to equal balls, dust with wheat flour and make rotis/ parathas.
Grated garlic on the paratha..
  • Grate a pinch of garlic with the zester on the rotis again.
  • Put on a hot tava and cook on both sides.
  • Serve HOT with Hara Bara Sookha Aloo.

Packing off this dish to Priya`s Event Vegetable/Fruit A Month which would feature a veggie and a fruit every month.

Eggless Cakes

Easy Party Snacks – Eggless Orange Muffins.

Oranges are one of my favourite fruits and I invent ways and means to add them to anything and everything. …Cakes, Muffins. Kheer, Salads, the list is almost endless. They infuse the dish with such and aroma and richness that it adds such a zing to it. Oranges are also a rich source of Vitamin C and have many other benefits. This is one of my favourite concoction out of oranges and is an all time addition to any party or potlucks.

INGREDIENTS:

3 small oranges.

1 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour.

1 Tsp Baking Powder.

1/2 Baking Soda.

1/2 Cup Melted Butter.(Substitute with Melted Margarine).

3/4 Cup Brown Sugar/ White Sugar.

1/4 Cup sour Cream.( Can be replaced with thick curds/ yoghurt)

2 Tbsp Orange Zest.

3/4 Cup Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice.

5 orange and brown vanilla wafers crumbled.

PREPARATION:

  • Firstly zest all the three oranges but make sure you don`t go all the way to the white portion covering the oranges, to avoid bitterness. Once the oranges are zested, its easy to squeeze out the juice. Set aside.
  • We always start the process of baking with wet ingredients. Having that in mind, take a large mixing bowl and add melted butter. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  • Next add orange juice, orange zest, sour cream and sugar and mix it briskly to allow the sugar to dissolve in the juices.
  • Measure out the all purpose flour in to another bowl.
  • Add baking soda, baking powder and give it a mix. Set aside.
  • Ladle out portions of the flour (flour+ baking soda+ baking powder) little by little in to the bowl having the wet ingredients.
  • Do not overmix as this might rob the mix of all the air which helps in making spongy muffins.
  • When all the flour has been added, set aside for 5-10 minutes to allow it to slightly work on the batter and get a little airy.

  • Meanwhile, butter the muffin pans and take the wafer crumbles and fill n the base of the muffin moulds with it. We do this to allow a firm base for the muffins. This step is completely optional or can be replaced with Orange Marie Biscuits or any other biscuit.
  • Now with a measuring scoop, fill in the muffin moulds with at least 3/4`th of the batter.

  • When all the batter has been added to the pans, slightly top it with a sprinkle of orange zest.
  • Pop the muffins in to the oven and bake for around 12-15 minutes.
  • When you find the top browning a little and you are embraced with a sweet perfume of oranges, then is the time to remove it from the oven and allow it to cool.
  • Enjoy fragrant orange muffins and allow its aroma and freshness to engulf you completely when you bite in to it!!!
  • This measurement makes 12 big muffins / 24 mini muffins.

Cakes / Pastries / Cookies/ Bread/Muffins.

My 200`th Post – Monthly Guest Posts on Anubhavati -Celebrating Passionate Fellow Culinarians – Spongy Carrot Cake.

It has been very enjoyable growing with my baby blog- Anubhavati. I have traversed the path taken by many, and learnt many lessons on the way, yet make my own mark here. It has been a discerning quest for information, seeking out creativity from within, and constant expression of thoughts and feelings on paper ….ahh on keyboard!  Continuous lessons in expression, colour, patience, perseverance, creativity, passion and much much more.I have learnt so much from my friends, family and other passionate fellow foodies, that in my mind, I wanted a chance to reach out to them and let them talk in their own words….Weave their own magic – Just  one magic every month…Monthly Guest Posts on Anubhavati has been on my mind for quite some time now and I felt the time has come to simply put  my thoughts in to action.

I would reach out to my friends/family/fellow culinarians for their favourite recipe that they would like to share on Anubhavati. The post would be published verbatim in the words of the Guest, with pictures and tips.  Looking for your thoughts on the same.

On the same lines, my cousin and also my very good friend Lakshmi who blogs under the name of Nidhana at  Sulekha was one of the first I approached for my Guest Blog and she graciously agreed. Here it is for you all to read, and enjoy…

SOFT & SPONGY CARROT CAKE.


A birthday gift

I was at the supermarket the other day looking for a quick gift for my friend, whose birthday was the next day.  Looking at the boring boxes
of sweets that flit from one house to another without being opened ever, till the expiry date I was discouraged, even the candles did not
tempt me. How many vanilla /lily of the valley scented candles can one have! Was not keen on spending too much money either! Disappointed with what
was on offer, I came home and went on facebook to catch up with friends.  Presto! What do I find?  BBC Good Food’s tempting menu, the
first one a scrumptious carrot cake!  The simple recipe got my fingers twitching and I quickly took a look at my larder to check for
ingredients. Luck favoured me that day, as I had every ingredient it asked for, after all, how many people would have an unopened bag of
light muscovado sugar?  The dark brown sugar is definitely a healthier option. It is minimally refined and retains many of the essential dietary vitamins and minerals which are present in the sugarcane plant. Muscovado sugar happens to be high potassium, calcium, magnesium,  and iron, among other useful compounds.
Assembling the ingredients I thought to myself, why not double the recipe and make a birthday cake for my friend too.  All excited with
the thought of surprising her, I switched on my oven and started preheating it.

INGREDIENTS:

Carrots                                  : 2 Large
Grated zest of one orange
Self raising flour                : 175 grams
Sunflower oil                       : 175 grams
Light muscovado sugar  : 175 grams
Eggs                                         : 3 large
Walnuts/raisins                  : 100 grams
Soda bi-carbonate             : 1 Tsp.
Nutmeg (freshly grated)  :½ teaspoon
Cinnamon                               : 1 teaspoon
Cream cheese                        : 2 oz
Icing sugar                              : 2oz

PREPARATION:

  • Preheat the oven to 160C.  Grate the carrots and keep aside.
  • Mix in the eggs, sugar, orange rind,  oil and sifted flour in a bowl with a wooden ladle and stir in the carrots, soda,  walnuts, raisins,cinnamon and nutmeg.
  • Using a well oiled cake pan, tip the mixture and bake for 45 minutes.
  • The aroma of cinnamon and nutmeg will soon envelop your kitchen andhome with a lovely aroma and fill your heart with warmth.  Cool the cake well on a wire rack.
  • In a little bowl, stir in the cream cheese, icing sugar and a teaspoon of orange juice.  Spread it over the cake and sprinklefinely chopped walnuts.  I
  • If you are not watching your calories, feel free to cover the cake with cream cheese and carefully strew the walnuts.

With a cup of steaming tea, this delicious cake is a godsend and will  impress guests no end. As for my friend, I chose to double all the
above ingredients and since my pans were small I used 3 different  pans, 1 round, 1 loaf pan and a square one.  I ended up with 3 cakes
in the end. One for my family, one for my friend (was so touched by the gesture) and one for me!  But, I dedicate this cake to my friend
Shoba who encourages me no end and has all the time in the world for  her friends who need her!

Pickles & Thokku.

Found these baby mangoes…

at the local Indian grocery store and almost shouted out in glee!!!  Although they dont get anywhere close to the tight rounded fresh little beauties that we used to pick up at Ranganathan Street in T.nagar, Chennai, these little ones should still do.

Gonna wash them and soak them in spiced brine to make my stash of Maavadu this year!!!

Side Dishes for Rotis/Dosas/ Naan.

Hari Bari Sookhi Alu Subji.

Baby Potatoes at the local farmer`s market can never let me walk by without getting picked. The local market has hoards of them freshly wrapped up in little bags, all of them in various sizes. My all time favourite preparation would always be Chinna Urulai Fry or with fresh soft parathas, Aloo Dum.  This weekend, I rememebered having a fresh packet of Mint and corriander stashed away in my refrigerator pantry. I have this love for Mint and I keep using it over and over again in my cooking. It`s such an awesome addition to any rice pilafs and to curried gravies that it simply takes the taste and aroma to the next level. Cialntro on the other hand is such an aromatic garnish that I lavish it in rasams, gravies, and rice dishes. With this in mind, I wanted to try to marinate the cooked potatoes in a green sauce and then let them saute in the wok. Good try over the weekend, with even better reviews from my family!!!

INGREDIENTS:

Baby Potatoes – 1 1/2 Pound Bag.

Fresh Cilantro Packed – 1 cup.

Fresh Mint Leaves Packed – 1/3 cup.

Green Chillies – 12.

Red Onion – 1/4 Medium Onion or 1 small onion/ shallot.

Ginger – 2 Inch Piece.

Garlic – 5-8 Pods.

Cashew Pods – 5 to 6.

Jeera – 1 Tsp.

Dhania Powder – 2 Tsp.

Turmeric Powder – A pinch.

Garam Masala Powder – 1/4 Tsp.

White Sesame Seeds (Dry Roasted) – 1 Tsp.

Yoghurt – 1/4 cup.

Salt to taste.

PREPARATION:

  • Wash the Baby Potatoes three to four times in tap water and rub the outer skin well with a brush to remove all traces of soil or dirt. The potatoes would be cooked with the skin on so its very necessary to clean it well.
  • Make a small hole with a fork on every potatoe. This is to make sure that its well cooked with the salt,
  • In a pressure cooker, add the potatoes, enough water to just soak  in, add salt and pressure cook FOR JUST ONE WHISTLE. Immediately switch off.
  • Drain all the water and pour in to a mixing bowl. Set aside.
  • In 1/8 cup water add the dhania powder and  turmeric powder and mix to a smooth paste. Set aside.
  • In a mixer puree the following: Onion, Mint, Cilantro, Cashews, 8 Green Chillies, Ginger, Garlic, Salt with as less water as possible. Adding the onions first helps in bringing out water for grinding the rest of the ingredients.
  • Pour in to a mixing bowl and add the cooked potatoes so they marinate well in the green paste. Set aside for a minimum of ten to twenty minutes. The holes on the baby potatoes, also help in the marination.
  • In a kadai, add oil, jeera, and remaining 4 green chilles slit lengthwise.
  • Next add the powders dissolved in water and roast well. After a few minutes, add the potatoes soaked in green ground paste.
  • Add yoghurt and mix in well.
  • Saute on medium low heat very slowly until the green paste is well roasted and coated over the potatoes.
  • Add oil, if you feel that the potatoes begin to smoke. The idea is to slow cook covered with ocassional tossing.
  • Dry roast a spoon of white sesame seeds and powder.
  • When the potatoes are done, sprinkle the sesame powder and toss.
  • Enjoy delicious Hara bara Sookha Aloo Subzi with raw onions and steaming hot Parathas.

HINTS:

  1. When the ingredients are getting pureed, its a good idea to add 1 Tbsp of any light oil like Canola or Sunflower Oil. This prevents the aloo from smoking and catching the bottom of the pan apart from helping in the marination process.