Friday, March 20, 2015

Cashew & Tofu Stuffed Peppers - More Desi Health Bites!

Stuffed capsicum or stuffed bell peppers is a very popular dish in India and many versions abound. This ever-present potato stuffed version on the menu of restaurants serving North Indian Cuisine and the rich Hyderabadi version. Then the North Karnataka style with a lip smacking garlicky gravy and then some more!  Here comes another slightly healthier version, Cashew And Tofu Stuffed Peppers. Bell peppers stuffed with a tasty mixture of tofu, crunchy roasted cashews, vegetables and spices. The peppers are then baked in an oven till done. 

This post comes as the next and final recipe in association with Fortune Foods. Rice bran oil apparently has the right balance of SFA, MUFA and PUFA nearest to the recommendation by WHO. Oryzanol is one of the micro nutrients, which is extremely heart friendly. It reduces overall cholesterol absorption from foods, slows down cholesterol formation inside the body, selectively reduces the bad cholesterol (LDL) and improves good cholesterol. Apparently, research has shown that sufficient Oryzanol is received when FRBH is consumed at normal levels.

Addressing the myth that rice bran oil can't be consumed during fasts, it is made from the bran of rice, a nutritious brown layer between the grain and husk. Bran is the only source of Oryzanol, which helps reduce cholesterol and prevents heart disease. 

And I am glad this is one of the oils I have been using regularly in my cooking and baking!

Here is the recipe for Cashew And Tofu Stuffed Bell Peppers

Cashew and Tofu Stuffed Bell Peppers
Green Bell Peppers - 4 medium sized.
Fortune Rice Bran Oil - 2 tablespoons 
Onion - finely chopped - 3/4 cup
Ginger-garlic paste - 1 teaspoon
Turmeric - 1/2 teaspoon
Red chili powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Grated firm tofu - 3/4 cup (or crumbled low fat cottage cheese)
1 medium sized potato, boiled and mashed (optional)
Boiled peas - 1/2 cup
Grated carrots - 1/2 cup
Cashew nuts, toasted and roughly chopped - 1/2 cup
Amchur powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Garam masala - 1/2 teaspoon
Coriander powder - 1 teaspoon
Kasuri methi, toasted and crushed - 1 teaspoon
Salt to taste. 
Fresh coriander, finely chopped for garnish

Method : Wash and dry the bell peppers. Slice off the tops, remove the seeds. If needed, slice a tiny layer horizontally at the bottom so that they stand upright as they cook. 

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a pan. Tip in the onion, saute till it turns translucent. Then add the ginger garlic paste, saute for a couple of minutes. 

Next, add the turmeric and chilli powder. Saute. Mix in the the rest of the ingredients. Cook on low heat for a couple of minutes. Let cool and stuff the bell peppers with the mixture. 

Pre-heat oven to 200 C / 400F. Place the bell peppers in a greased baking dish, snugly cover the top of the tin with aluminum foil . Bake 25-30 minutes or till the capsicum is cooked. Brush the peppers with oil lightly the last 5 minutes of baking. Do not under cook the peppers as it would be difficult to cut gracefully cut through at  the table. Just in case you would be eating this with company 

Serve hot with rotis.

This blog post is in association with Fortune Foods as a part of their Desi Health Bites activity– The Hunt for the Best Rice Bran Oil Recipes. For more updates and healthy recipes using Fortune Rice Bran Health Oil, follow Fortune Foods on Facebook and on Twitter 

Monday, March 16, 2015

Grilled Pineapple & Cottage Cheese Bites - Desi Health Bites!

In a country where most recipes begin with heating oil in a pan and end with a tempering of oil and spices, disseminating information about cooking oil is a welcome idea. Fortune Foods invited food bloggers to come up with healthy recipes as part of an initiative to highlight some facts and bust some myths about rice bran oil. 

The company launches a 100% rice bran oil, Fortune Rice Bran Health. This oil is extracted from the thin brown layer (or bran) of unpolished grains. The bran contains lots of vitamins and other micro nutrients, making it the most nutritious part of grains.

 Some benefits of rice bran oil : 

1. Helps reduce bad cholesterol: Fortune rice bran health oil has a key micro nutrient called
“oryzanol”, an antioxidant found only in the bran of rice. It helps reduce bad cholesterol, 
increase good cholesterol and keeps your heart healthy, making it a healthier choice. 

2. Keeps your heart healthy: FRBH contains more antioxidants than blended oils or pomace
olive oil. They fight harmful free radicals, which cause heart disease and other chronic 
illnesses, keeping your heart healthy. 

3. Helps to have better skin: Squalene is an organic compound naturally produced by human skin cells and is a natural moisturizer. Fortune Rice Bran Health Oil contains good amounts of it which prevent the ageing of skin.

A couple of myths related to rice bran oil 

1. Darker Oils aren’t good for health. It is a myth that colourless or transparent oils are healthier than dark oils. FRBH is refined optimally to keep all the essential micro nutrients 
intact. It has a darker appearance primarily due to Oryzanol. 

2. Rice Bran alters the taste of food: Rice Bran leaves no aftertaste. It does not have a
taste of its own, so it doesn’t interfere with the taste of food.

Here comes  a delightful tango of hot-sweet flavors, Grilled Pineapple & Cottage Cheese Bites. Light enough to be served as a summer appetizer, enough spices to tickle the Indian palate.  

Grilled Pineapple And Cottage Cheese Bites

Cottage cheese - cut into 1'' cubes - 200 grams (please read note)
Fresh peeled pineapple - cut into 1'' cubes - 1 cup
Red capsicum - 1, cut into 1'' cubes

For the marinade 

Fresh red chilies, slit - 15-20  
Fresh coriander, chopped - 1/4 cup
Garlic - 5 pods
Oil - 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon
Roasted cumin powder - 1 teaspoon
Salt to taste
Fresh, thick hung yogurt or low fat set dahi - 6 tablespoons
Chat masala - 1 teaspoon
Roasted chickpea flour - 1.5 tablespoons
Kasuri methi, toasted and crushed - 1 teaspoon
Oil - 1 tablespoon
Plus extra oil for grilling


To make the marinade 

  • On low heat, heat 1 teaspoon oil in a pan. Tip in the chilies, saute till lightly blistered. Now add the coriander and saute till just shriveled. Transfer to a plate, let cool. 
  • Grind the sauteed chilies, coriander, garlic, cumin powder, a tablespoon of oil and salt to a smooth paste. At this point, you can store the paste in an airtight jar for a day in the fridge.
  • Whisk 3 tablespoons paste with the yogurt, besanchat masala, kasuri methi, going easy with more salt as chat masala already has salt in it. Taste, adding more marinade if you want it to taste more assertive. 
  • Take the paneer, pineapple and capsicum in a bowl, scrape the marinade on top . Mix gently, coating the pieces well. Marinate for at least half an hour or longer in the fridge if convenient. Thread so that pieces of paneer, capsicum and pineapple alternate on the skewers. 
  • Heat a non stick tawa. Brush generously with oil. On medium heat, grill till lightly charred, brushing oil lightly as needed. Take care not to overcook or the paneer will become tough and chewy. Serve immediately. 

Succulent pieces of sweet pineapple, soft cottage cheese and crunchy red peppers, I thought is a winning combination! You could even skip the cottage cheese to make it a really low calorie version!

Please note: I have used home made cottage cheese made with 3% milk. You can use store bought paneer or even pressed and drained firm tofu. 

Any remaining ground paste can be simply whisked into fresh yogurt, add a simple tempering of mustard and curry leaves. Enjoy with hot steamed rice or parathas. Or even tossed with cubed chilled cucumber as a snack!

This blog post is in association with Fortune Foods as a part of their Desi Health Bites activity– The Hunt for the Best Rice Bran Oil Recipes. For more updates and healthy recipes using Fortune Rice Bran Health Oil, follow Fortune Foods on Facebook and on Twitter 

Monday, March 9, 2015

Puff Pastry Tartlettes - With Oven Roasted Cherry Tomatoes & Basil

I haven't been baking a lot of late nor been very active here. Apologies and thank you for still being around! Glad to have some home made rough puff pastry in my freezer, versatile and so convenient. Indulgent stuff like these Orange Curd filled Mille Feuille or with just some cinnamon sugar sprinkled on top, you could churn out sweet some things without much effort.

Think savory and you could probably use just about anything you fancy or have on hand. Thaw the frozen pastry overnight in the fridge, roll and bake the next day. Some extra baked pastry I had dumped in the freezer was good too. Warm, flaky puffs in minutes literally, what's not to love?

My sister who ate home made puff pastry for the first time, was very pleased with the buttery flavor. It is rich of course, best eaten as an indulgence.  Not a bad idea really, you must have some of this pastry in your freezer. Makes me wish I had air-conditioning in my kitchen so I would never run out of puff pastry ever!

Made these tartlettes topped with sweet caramelized onions, tart roasted cherry tomatoes, garlic and basil. (This has to be one of the most common recipes you will find!) Simple, flavorful!

Ingredients : It is hard to specify exact quantities of both the pastry and the topping. Here is an approximate. Better to have more of the pastry and topping than less!

Home made rough puff pastry - 1/2 recipe here (please read note)

Cherry tomatoes, halved - 200 grams
Extra virgin olive oil - 2 tablespoons (divided use)
Onions - 2 medium sized
Garlic pods - 6-8
Fresh basil leaves - a handful
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.


To bake the pastry

  • Thaw the pastry (still wrapped) overnight in the fridge. Be sure you work in a cool kitchen, preferably cooler hours of the day. If making the rough puff pastry the ideal temperature should be around 18 C.
  • If the pastry is still very firm, leave it in the wrap on the counter till it is fairly firm but pliable enough to roll without a lot of pressure. Excessive pressure may glue the layers together!
  • Line a baking tray with parchment. Dust the counter lightly with flour. 
  • Roll the pastry about 4 -5 mm thick. Using a pizza cutter and a ruler as a guide, cut into 2'' squares.
  • Transfer to the baking sheet, cover the surface with cling film and chill again for an hour to firm up again. (Good time to get your topping ready)
  • Pre-heat oven to 180 C / 350 F. Bake the pastry for about 25-30 minutes (depending on the thickness) or till golden and crisp. Store air tight if not using immediately. I have refrigerated and also frozen the baked pastries at this point, worked well for me!
For the topping ( you could make this ahead and refrigerate)
  • Slice the onions about 3-4 mm thick. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a wide pan. Tip in the onions and cook on low heat stirring now and then, till the onions are soft but not mushy, golden and caramelized.  Add 1/2 tsp sugar and salt to taste. Please do check this link for caramelizing onions just right. 
  • Lightly grease a large baking tin. Toss together the tomatoes, garlic, salt and pepper, top with the basil. Place tomatoes cut side up, bake in a 180 C preheated oven for about 30 minutes or till the tomatoes are done. Be careful not to over bake or they will turn chewy and dry.
  • To serve. Top each tartlet with some of the caramelized onions and some roasted tomatoes. I liked it with lots of onion with the tomatoes as it helps balance the tartness. Warm in a 180 C oven for 5 minutes. Garnish with fresh basil and serve immediately.

Please note : These tartlettes were a result a new recipe in quest of easier pastry. It was fairly good of course, but Ieft a couple of questions in my mind. Can't wait to make it again! You could try this recipe above or use store bought puff pastry.

Which is your favorite recipe for rough puff pastry? Tell me how I can use the rest of the pastry in my freezer!