Blog -> Monthly Archives: November 2013
November 26, 2013

Yesterday, I was listening to a talk on spices at a seminar and thought to myself – how lucky we Indians are, to have such a wide variety of spices in our cuisine.  It’s hard to imagine an Indian kitchen without turmeric, ginger, garlic, mustard, cumin, coriander and many other spices.

Spices not only aid digestion but also have a protective effect on health.  The innumerable antioxidants present in spices guard us against a host of diseases.  However, this protective effect is possible only in tandem with a healthy lifestyle.  Several studies have been conducted in India on spices and health.  Turmeric, ginger, garlic and capsaicin (which is the active component in chilli peppers, capsicum and other foods of the same family) have found to be beneficial for many health problems.

Contrary to popular belief, spices do not cause ulcers by themselves.  Although spices offer benefits in healthy people, there’s little they can do in those who already have a disease condition.

Do continue to use spices in your cooking.  Don’t forget to season your dishes!

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November 18, 2013

A health cookery competition, a recipe demonstration and a related nutrition talk got me to visit Pune last week.  The participants enthusiastically showed off their culinary skills and were supported by their friends present in full force.  The judging panel comprised of a chef from a star hotel, a food connoisseur from the company and myself.  The unanimous choice for the first prize was “Maharashtrian Tadka Biryani” made by Deepika Hublikar and Arti Deore.  They have shared the recipe with all of you, so thank you, Deepika & Arti.


Ingredients –

  1. 1 cup flattened rice (beaten rice / poha / rice flakes)
  2. Himalayan rock salt (Saindhav salt) to taste
  3. Masala 1 – 1 star anise , 1 cardamom , 1 cinnamon, 2 cloves,  1 tsp black cumin seeds , 1 bay leaf
  4. Masala 2 – 1/2 tsp garam masala, 1 tsp red chili powder, 1 tsp powdered fennel seeds, 1 tsp kasuri methi, 1 tsp turmeric powder
  5. 1 tsp ginger and garlic paste
  6. 1 tsp chilies finely chopped
  7. 1 tbsp curd
  8. 1 cup vegetables (chopped & boiled) – carrot, cauliflower, mushroom, french beans
  9. 1/3 cup chopped tomato
  10. 1/3 cup chopped onion
  11. 1/2 cup paneer (grated)
  12. 1 tbsp unsalted fresh butter
  13. 2 tsp lemon juice
  14. Garnish – coriander, mint (pudina)

Method of Preparation –
Rice preparation

  • Take the flattened rice and soak it in water for few seconds.
  • Heat the pan, melt half the unsalted butter in it, add Masala 1 and sauté for 2-3 mins. Add soaked flattened rice and sauté for 5 mins until the rice gets the flavor of masala. After 5 mins remove the rice from the flame.  Add Masala 2, salt, lemon juice, mix well and keep aside.
  • Heat some coal on a flame.  After the coal is heated keep it in a bowl. Add few drops of ghee on the heated coal. Keep the bowl with the flattened rice prepared above the coal and cover it with a tight lid so that the rice gets the flavor of coal smoke.

Veggie Layer

  • Heat the remaining unsalted butter in a pan. After the butter melts add 1 tsp cumin seeds and ginger-garlic paste, and after a few seconds add finely chopped onion. Sauté until the onion turns brown.
  • Add chopped tomato and sauté it until the mixture thickens. Add curd and mix well.
  • Add turmeric powder, fennel seed powder, chili powder, kasuri methi and mix well. After a few seconds add boiled vegetables, salt, garam masala, paneer & sauté for 2-3 mins.


  • Cover 1/3 part of bowl with veggie layer and spread evenly. Add rice layer and garnish it with paneer, coriander and pudina. Prepare 1 more such layer and garnish your dish with coriander, pudina and baked onion rings.
  • Cover the bowl with cling film. Make some holes to the film and heat in microwave for 5 mins.
  • Serve your dish immediately after heating and enjoy your meal with some raita or curd.
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November 7, 2013

Last week I had a very interesting conversation with Sindhoor Pangal, a Canine family Coach & Behaviorist educated in Norway.  Her adoration for dogs took her overseas from Bangalore to learn and understand canine behavior and to help other dog-owners and dogs in distress.  She’s probably one of the very few such professionals in our country. 

Her work involves demystifying the communication between dogs and humans.  Dogs can read human emotions and are great at identifying what makes us happy.  They also offer us solace when they sense our sadness or stresses.  But we are not in a position to receive this either because we are incapable of reading them or we are not in a mental position to do so.  When their efforts fail, the dogs get stressed.  So, in a way, they are reflecting our stress.  This is when a canine behaviorist steps in and identifies the real problem.  This can perhaps help to discover our own stresses and lead us to a path of de-stress.

No wonder, dogs are called ‘man’s best friend’.  If you are a dog lover or if any of your family members, friends or neighbours own dogs, you might want to contact Sindhoor Pangal.   She also runs classes apart from offering consultations.  For more information go to her website

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