The word "khana" in Indian Khana Made Easy means food. So come on, let's explore and cook some easy Indian food together including Gluten Free dishes.

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October 27, 2020

Tip Four - Boost Nutrition with Food Pairings: Vitamin C and Plant-based Iron

Spinach with Vitamin C (Orange or lime juice)


Iron is an essential nutrient that plays an important role in many bodily functions. A diet lacking in iron can result in low energy levels, shortness of breath, irritability, headaches, dizziness, or anemia.

Iron can be found in two forms in foods - heme and non-heme. Heme iron is only found in animal products, whereas non-heme is only found in plants. The recommended daily allowance/ intake (RDA/ RDI) is based on a person's gender and life stage.

-Post-menopausal women and men, 8mg/ day
-Mensurating women, 18g/ day
-Pregnant women 27g/ day

Non-heme iron tends to be less easily absorbed by our bodies than heme iron. Hence the RDI for vegetarians or vegans is 1.8 times higher than for meat-eaters.

To best absorb non-heme iron (plant-based), we need to pair it with a source of Vitamin C. Vitamin C helps break the iron down into a form that the body can more easily absorb. Absorption will be much greater if both the nutrients are in a single meal. 

Spinach provides many health benefits but very few calories. About 3.5 oz (100g) of raw spinach contains 2.7mg of iron or a 15% daily allowance. Leafy greens, such as Spinach, Kale, Swiss Chard, and beet greens contain between 2.4 - 6.4mg of iron per cooked cup. For example, 100g of spinach contains 1.1 times more iron than the same amount of red meat and 2.2 times more than 100g of salmon.

Below is a salad recipe that pairs the non-heme goodness of plant-based food with Vitamin C enriched food:
 
Spinach and Orange Salad

Baby Spinach                2 cups packed
Orange (any type)         10 - 12 wedges de-skinned
Olive oil                        1 tbsp
Black pepper                  To taste or 1/4th tsp.
Walnuts (optional)        10 - 12 pieces

Place spinach in a bowl, drizzle olive oil, add pepper, and garnish it with orange wedges and walnuts. Toss well and serve. You can also make a colorful salad with spinach and sliced strawberries that have a good amount of Vitamin C (a 3.5oz contains 59mg of Vit C or 98% daily value). Other combos: Broccoli with bell Peppers, chickpeas with tomatoes.

Who would have thought these simple ingredients would make such a yummy salad. We couldn't wait to share it with all of you. 

We hope you are enjoying our tips on food pairings to boost nutrition. Keep posted for more tips. 

October 23, 2020

Poornalu - A Gluten Free Festival Sweet

Yummy Poornalu!


Today is Durga Ashtami. It is celebrated with great passion and fervor, all over India and especially in West Bengal. 


Ashtami marks the eighth day of the Navratri and on this auspicious day, devotees observe rigorous fast, feast, and worship Goddess Durga who symbolizes 💪 strength. A celebration of traditional culture and customs, massive idols of Goddess Durga are installed throughout India while enormous puja pandals are set up at various places for devotees to visit and worship.

 


Poornalu (or Boorelu, as known in Telugu-speaking regions) is a traditional Andhra sweet that is most commonly made for festivals like Dussehra, Varalakshmi Puja, Ugadi, etc, and also served at weddings. With the advent of milk-based sweets, the popularity of traditional sweets has dwindled in the past few years. Lately, sweets like Poornalu are making a comeback along with the interest in traditional cultural habits.

This Poornalu recipe was passed down to my mom from her mother who learned to make it from her mother-in-law. I love learning about these dishes because it is a way for me to learn about culture and family history. This year has been especially difficult because my maternal grandmother passed away at the end of March. She used to visit us during the festival season and shared stories about the festivals and the food. She was a vivacious spirit. 

Below is the recipe for this sweet. Hope you like it as much as I do. 


Ingredients for the lentil filling (this makes 22-25 lime sized balls)
- 1 cup channa dal or yellow split peas
- 1/3 cup grated coconut (optional)
- 1 cup grated jaggery 
- 10 to 12 cardamom pods, seeded and (powdered with a pinch of sugar)


Ingredients for the dough
- 3/4 cup urad dal (husked black gram dal), soaked for 5-6 hours or overnight, and ground to a thick fine paste
- 1/4 cup rice flour
- A pinch of salt
- A pinch of baking soda

Ingredients for frying
- 3 cups of vegetable oil

Procedure
1) Pressure cook channa dal with plenty of water until dal is soft but not soupy. Using a colander, drain the excess water. Transfer the dal into a flat container and mash well until it is in paste consistency.

2) Add the jaggery, coconut, and cardamom to the dal paste into a non-stick pan and keep mixing under low heat until the sugar dissolves and the mixture comes together (approx. 10 minutes) without sticking to the walls. Transfer it into a container and cool it for 15-20 minutes. 

3) Grease a plate with 1/2 tsp of oil, and make lime-sized balls of the lentil mixture and arrange them on the plate without any of them touching each other. 



4) Mix the rice flour, salt, and baking soda into the ground urad dal paste and add water as needed to loosen it to a pancake batter consistency. 


5) Heat oil in the frying pan on medium heat, when heat it felt to your palm placed safely at a distance above the oil, drop a small amount of dough into the oil. If the dough rises up to the surface of the oil quickly, the oil is ready for frying. 





6) Take a lentil ball and dip in the coating dough well to cover all over and gently drop it into the oil. Continue this step with an additional 3-4 balls coated and gently dropped into the oil. After a couple of minutes when the oil bubbles subside on the Purnalu, turn them over and continue to fry them to golden brown color. Using a slotted ladle, collect them from the oil, and let the oil drain further by placing them into a strainer. In a couple of minutes, transfer them onto a flat serving dish. Continue these frying steps with the remaining lentil balls. 


7) Serve them hot to experience the crunchy coating. 




Quick Tips
- Brown sugar can be substituted for jaggery; if jaggery is not readily available. Keep in mind, it will have a slightly different taste. Adjust the brown sugar as per your taste. 
- Store-bought dosa dough can be used instead of making your own coating batter. 
- Cold Purnalu can be reheated in the toaster oven for a better taste; just dab the oozed-out oil after heating. 
- Dry coconut can be substituted if fresh coconut is not available.