I Love India – Homemade Lassi and Falooda

This classic sweet and salty mint lassi is very popular in the northern Punjab, where field workers use it to replenish their bodies with both salt and sugar whilst refreshing and cooling themselves with the buttermilk, mint and cumin seeds. Easier to digest than milk and yogurt, buttermilk is considered a light and healthy way to get your dairy, but now most of us just blend yogurt and water together until we have a light frothy lassi.

Put a spin on the classic lassi and turn it into a lassi float – the slight sourness of the lassi has to be a great balance for the ice cream – and they really work together a treat; complex but easy, and much more sophisticated than a soda float.

For an extra dimension, make it into a falooda, a colourful part-drink, part-dessert dish that you eat with a spoon. It is delicious and lighter than many puddings!

Classic sweet and salty mint lassi; serves 1

  • 180g (3⁄4 cup) plain yogurt
  • 120ml (1⁄2 cup) water
  • 2tsp sugar, or to taste
  • pinch of salt
  • 1⁄3–1⁄2 tsp roast and ground cumin seeds
  • 2 tbsp. shredded mint leaves, or dried mint
  • crushed or shaved ice, to serve

Blend together the yogurt, water, sugar, salt, cumin and half the mint. Stir in the remaining mint, taste and adjust the sugar and yogurt. Chill, before serving with crushed or shaved ice.

Lassi floats; serves 6

  • 480g (2 cups) chilled plain yogurt
  • 400ml (12⁄3 cup) water
  • 5tsp sugar, or to taste
  • crushed ice, to serve
  • 6 small scoops of ice cream

Blend together the yogurt, water and sugar until light and frothy. Adjust the sugar to taste; the amount you need depends on how sour the yogurt is. Pour into glasses furnished with some crushed ice. Add small scoops of your chosen ice cream. Leave for 5–10 minutes, then serve.

Falooda; serves 6

Soak 5tbsp of black chia seeds in enough milk to cover them for approximately 20 minutes, or until they plump up. Cook 80g (2¾oz) falooda sev noodles (Indian cornflour noodles available in most Indian food stores), or some thin rice noodles, according to the packet instructions. Mix these together with a little coloured syrup (either grenadine, violet or the more traditional rose syrup). Divide the noodles and syrup between glasses; there should be 1 teaspoon of the syrup per glass. Add the chia seeds on top, pour over your lassi, prepared as per the recipe above.

Enjoy!

For more delicious recipes from all over India check our “I love India” cookbook by Anjum Anand.

*Photo credit: Martin Poole

 

Sunflower Seeds – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Sunflower seeds – small, tasty and healthy; eaten as a snack or as a part of a proper meal this fruit of the sunflower has a lot to offer us but just like most things in life, even sunflower seeds have to be consumed in moderation as too much simply isn’t good for us…

Some countries are much bigger on sunflower seeds consumption than other. I’ve read that in Russia for example, you can simply ask a friend for a handful of sunflower seeds once you run out, just like you would bump the proverbial cup of sugar from your neighbour in the UK; they are just so common and everyone eats them. I personally love sunflower seeds, to the point that Mark thinks I should look like a parrot by now. Anyways last night whilst multitasking (re-watching season 4 of House MD and playing Jelly Saga bubbles on my phone at the same time), I heard the episode with the diagnosis – B6 toxicity as a direct result of excessive sunflower seed consumption… well, this caused me to stop nibbling and got me thinking, so here I am sharing with you the headlines from what I have been researching for the last few hours 🙂

Sunflower seeds are an excellent source of polyunsaturated oils; they are rich in Vitamin E, copper, Vitamin B, manganese, selenium, magnesium, folate and almost 70 other nutrients.

The main health benefits of eating sunflower seeds:

  • Weight control – due to their high levels of oil they will quickly take care of any hunger pangs, thus making a perfect snack.
  • Some anti-inflammatory and cardiovascular benefits due to their high levels of vitamin E.
  • They help lower cholesterol levels.
  • Anti-depressant – high level of magnesium can help with low moods, as well as help calm muscles and ease blood vessels.
  • Antioxidant – the selenium in sunflower seeds can help with thyroid health and help to repair any damaged cells within our body.

All is good in the world of sunflower seeds that is until we eat too many of them… Well, one might ask how many it too many… apparently, a single 1oz serving per day is the magic number… eating more can lead to several undesirable effects and contribute to:

  • Weight gain! Yes, the same seed which promotes weight loss in moderate amounts when eaten uncontrollably (the habit of nibbling them is very addictive) will inevitably lead to way too many calories and fats and undesirable weight gain.
  • Excess salt, especially if you snack on the salted version of the seeds.
  • General mouth and dental problems due to cracking too many shells.
  • Stomach problems due to high levels of fiber from eating both shelled and unshelled seeds.
  • Vitamin or/and nutrients overdose. All those good nutrients which were highly beneficial in a small amount can lead to problems when over consumed, especially manganese, selenium or B6 (just as House said).

I still love sunflower seeds but I might stick to a serving of roasted seeds as an addition to my salad from now on and lay off snacking my way through a 100g pack of it every other day.

Do you like sunflower seeds?

Have you ever considered that something can be beneficial in a small amount yet can be harmful when over-consumed?

15 Delicious Rhubarb Recipes

Rhubarb, that weird looking vegetable, commonly mistaken for being a fruit is packed with goodness, minerals and vitamins all of which can be greatly beneficial for our body. This is the first eatable plant that has grown in our garden (not counting the spring onions) so I was on the lookout for some new recipes to inspire me; I really had no idea rhubarb could be so versatile… it turns out there is so much more you can do with rhubarb than the “go to” recipe of rhubarb crumble :-)Rhubarb, that weird looking vegetable, commonly mistaken for being a fruit is packed with goodness, minerals and vitamins all of which can be greatly beneficial for our body. This is the first eatable plant that has grown in our garden (not counting the spring onions) so I was on the lookout for some new recipes to inspire me; I really had no idea rhubarb could be so versatile… it turns out there is so much more you can do with rhubarb than the “go to” recipe of rhubarb crumble 🙂

Green Salad with Roasted Rhubarb, Goat Cheese & Tarragon Vinaigrette

Mini Strawberry Rhubarb Hand Pies

Orange Rhubarb Giant Financier

Rhubarb & Ginger Tartlets with Pistachios

Rhubarb and Hazelnut Cake

Rhubarb Barbecue Sauce

Rhubarb Berry Jam

Rhubarb Cream Cheese Cake

Rhubarb Rose Dark Chocolate Parfaits

Rhubarb Shortbread Bars

Rhubarb Strawberry Chia Jam

Roasted Aubergine with Rhubarb Salsa

Roasted Chicken with Smashed Peas, Roasted Rhubarb and Aleppo Honey

Spring Rhubarb Frangipane Chevron Tart

Summer Rhubarb Chicken Salad

Do you like rhubarb?

What’s your favourite way of preparing it?

Rhubarb, that weird looking vegetable, commonly mistaken for being a fruit is packed with goodness, minerals and vitamins all of which can be greatly beneficial for our body. This is the first eatable plant that has grown in our garden (not counting the spring onions) so I was on the lookout for some new recipes to inspire me; I really had no idea rhubarb could be so versatile… it turns out there is so much more you can do with rhubarb than the “go to” recipe of rhubarb crumble.

Smoked Mackerel Breakfast Salad

Fast and easy to prepare, this salad will provide everything one might need for a good start of the day, including plenty of protein.

Fast and easy to prepare, this salad will provide everything one might need for a good start of the day, including plenty of protein.For years our morning meal has contained a single item… a coffee. Well, we both aren’t morning eaters and the very idea of solid foods in the earlier hours of the day just isn’t very appealing to us, normally but things can change… Lately, we have swopped sitting in the office in front of the PC for more physical work like gardening or woodworking. This change has forced us to reevaluate our eating habits. We are now much more inclined to have a proper, high protein breakfast which will keep us going till lunch or maybe dinner time, depending on how busy we are. We have started to experiment with different food combos and this salad is just a perfect result from this experiment. Who would have thought that fish and a white cheese could go so well together? I know it might sound a bit off but don’t diss it before you try it. The smoky taste from the fish rounded out by the creamy white cheese, the mildest hint of mayo zinged to the heavens when a piece of spring onion is bit a truly wondrous combo.

Ingredients:

  • 500g smoked mackerel
  • 150g soft white cheese*
  • 3 eggs
  • 2tbsp mayonnaise
  • Handful of chopped spring onions
  • Fresh cracked black pepper; to taste

*if you are in the UK you could check your local supermarkets’ Foods Of the World fridge section and see if they stock a Polish white cheese called twaróg  – it will work perfectly 🙂

Method:

Put a pan of water and 3 eggs on to boil, when done remove from the heat and allow to cool.

De-bone and flake the fish, then place it in a bowl. With a fork, mash it up a bit to reduce in size any large clumps of fish.

Add the white cheese and mash some more.

Once cooled and peeled, roughly chop the eggs and add to the bowl of fish and cheese. Sprinkle the spring onion over the top, add the mayonnaise and finally crack some black pepper and stir gently till everything is just combined.

Serve as a salad or even as a sandwich filling, it works perfectly both ways. And if you have any leftovers after breakfast time, pop it into the fridge and use as a dip for some crackers come evening time.

Enjoy!

Fast and easy to prepare, this salad will provide everything one might need for a good start of the day, including plenty of protein.

Home-Grown Food – From Meadow to Veggie Patch

Creating a garden, or a veggie patch to be precise, from scratch isn’t a picnic… it’s a whole load of hard work but it is work which at the same time as being hard can also be surprisingly satisfying.

Creating a garden, or a veggie patch to be precise, from scratch isn’t a picnic… it’s a whole load of hard work but it is work which at the same time as being hard can also be surprisingly satisfying.

When we were buying our new house we knew that a part of our land would be made into usable garden space with eatable thingies growing in it. As it ended up our new home had no dedicated garden space at all. The former owners of our place didn’t grow anything besides tons of beautiful flowers including about 100 bushes of roses. They did, however, support the local bee population by having some well-developed wild meadow… All good but we needed to make the room for our veggie patch 🙂 The plan became obvious, we had to turn part of our meadow into a veggie patch!

Our preparation work began in autumn. Luckily for us, a local man in our village called Ivan owned a mini tractor and plough and was kind enough to come to us with his tractor and plough our designated field. Then nature and the harshest Bulgarian winter in 65 years did their job. Over the winter months under piles of snow, the soil began breaking down and all the wild plants and grasses turned to mulch… super, everything so far was on course for getting ready for spring.

Once the snow melted it was time for step two… rotovation. But things aren’t always going to go according to plan. The snow melted, the sun came out to play but with it came also the rain. We were told that Ivan will be able to come on the 4th day after the last rain, so we waited… One day with no rain, two days with no rain, then the rain came… and so the countdown resets and begins again… after waiting for almost 2 weeks without the needed 4-day dry stretch we decided to start to clean up the soil by hand. It was a hard task, especially for two unfit people who have never done any gardening and had spent most of the last winter chilling indoors by the fire recovering from all of last years’ stresses. But day after day, meter by meter we slowly progressed… Until finally last Thursday at about 9am the doorbell rang, it was Mimo with the good news, Ivan is on his way as today was the 4th day pass the last rains. Around an hour later of precision driving and our entire patch was all turned and cultivated.

Time for step three – root removal 🙂 After Ivan had finished rotovating the soil this task became much easier. It took us a further 3 full days to finally finish our patch. We stood at the edge and looked upon our huge area of lovely brown crumbly soil set within a backdrop of wild meadow and marvelled at the transformation and felt deeply satisfied, it was a good life moment.

At this point, we were ready for marking the veggie plots out and the essential pathways. After some arguments and lots of running about with a measuring tape, a giant ball of string and an armful of marking sticks we had completed the task and created 9 even(ish) plots plus a 10th designated for root vegetables. Happy times!

One would think that this was it, but evidently no… after we marked out our plots, it was time for the final clean-up of the soil. I was not convinced and must admit to a fair amount of whining about unnecessary extra work but Mark started turning the soil over with a spade in one of the plots, I sank to my knees and started picking up anything that shouldn’t be there. I still mumbled about the stupidity of our actions till I tried to tug a root that wouldn’t move. I blamed my exhausted arms for their lack of power and asked Mark for help. He couldn’t pull it either, so being a bloke and refusing to be beaten by a mere root he started digging, and digging and then more digging. Turns out my little root was attached to a medium sized root that was in turn attached to a giant root that finally ended in a tree stump! 2 hours of digging and pulling and just a hint of swearing and the root was out. Mark turned to me and simply said: “A waste of time hey…” I resumed picking up old roots and didn’t mutter a word. Then, at last, all the remaining roots had been picked, we raked until all was flat and smooth and we were done! All we have to do next allegedly is plant our seeds.

I don’t know if you have any experience with gardening and growing veggies but if you do, please tell me, does it get any easier? Because right about now the concept of going to the local supermarket and buying a basketful of veggies is making an awful lot of sense. We were told this is the hard part and that now until next spring it is easier, but at this point, it is really hard to believe in it.