Friday, 31 May 2013

Tea & Sympathy

Sitting with my girlfriends and enjoying a cup of tea and conversation is perhaps one of the most fulfilling and satisfying experiences for me. It is such a mundane event and yet, one where we can share our deepest emotions, laugh together, live in the moment and in the span of a couple of hours feel connected to, and feel for each other. 
As adults caught up in our fast paced and busy lives - work, home, children, spouse and the mandatory socialising, this slow paced activity of making and sharing tea is relaxing and warming not just for the body, but for the soul.
What is so therapeutic in this seemingly ordinary tea? Companionship, camaraderie, receiving someone's full attention, some empathy, advice and a good laugh! In other words friendship!

As children our life revolves around our friends. And yet as we get older, it gets so easy to be caught up in trying to be responsible adults, working so hard at life, that we forget to nurture our friendships.

Every positive relationship in our life, nourishes and protects our spirit. We are social beings, we need each other and it is important for our emotional, spiritual and physical well being to feel loved, cherished, to be understood, to be heard, to feel valued. 

And there is more to it, when we surround ourselves with friends in a relaxed atmosphere to share a laugh, we relax, the tension leaves our muscles, stress hormones are reduced, immunity is strengthened by producing more infection fighting antibodies, pain is diminished, brain function is enhanced in both sides of the brain and we are protected against heart disease.

A secret to good health! Celebrate your friendships, laugh out aloud and call your friend(s) for some tea and sympathy.
Today I wanted to share two of my favourite herbal tea recipes. A lovely mint tea, which is dairy and caffeine free and great for your digestion.

Fresh Mint Tea

3 cups of fresh water
12-15 fresh mint leaves

Boil the water, let it cool for a minute and pour it into the teapot. Now add the fresh mint leaves to the pot. It needs to steep for a minute before you pour the tea into the cups. Enjoy!

And, a spice tea which packs quite an oomph. Also wonderful for a sore throat!

Spice Tea

2 inch piece of ginger
1 clove
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
3 cups of fresh water

Grate the ginger with its skin, lightly pound on the clove. Boil the water with all 3 spices for a minute and let it steep for a few minutes more. Ready to serve!                                                                

Friday, 17 May 2013

Peanut Butter Chocolate Ice-cream

If you love peanut butter and chocolate, (honestly, what is there not to love?) you will thank me for this rich, creamy, home made, healthy version of the best ice cream combo in the world.
I came upon the idea to make this recipe, quite by accident or rather the universe nudged me in the general direction and I seized the opportunity :). I have had organic, salt, sugar and hydrogenated oil free, peanut butter in my fridge for a few weeks now, and I just have not had the chance to eat it. Plus have been thinking about making a chocolate recipe and nothing seemed very inspiring or I didn't have all the ingredients, if it did. This morning, right after breakfast, I had to have something sweet, and a sudden inspiration hit me, peanut butter chocolate ice-cream! So, I threw in the ingredients together in the Vitamix, and voila!!!

2/3 cup peanut butter (if your peanut butter is sweetened, you could reduce the sweetener)
1/2 cup raw cacao powder (if you don't have that, regular cocoa would have to do)
1/2 cup extra virgin coconut oil
4 tbsp agave or your favourite liquid sweetener
3 small bananas
a pinch of salt
2 cups ice

Churn all of the above together in a blender. Eat some immediately:) and store the rest in the freezer.
You could add fruit while serving, I had mine with bananas and mangoes!
Before eating, let the ice cream sit out for a bit, its best enjoyed at a soft serve consistency.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Monsoon noodle soup

The rains have finally arrived and it has cooled down considerably! Such a relief, phew!! In India, no matter where you live, its impossible to be untouched or unaffected by the monsoons. There is a particular romance to it though. It begins with a long wait and an almost physical longing for the rains to arrive and then comes the first rain, the invigorating smell of the damp earth, the sound of the raindrops pitter pattering on the roof, and everything looks beautiful and pristine!
The rains always bring for me, an urge to eat something hot, watching the rain, maybe getting a little drenched :). So many of my childhood memories involve food, this is no different, my most distinct memories of the monsoons are in Delhi, dancing in the rains with my friends and waiting for the  corn on the cob cart to pass by, so we can all have the hot, coal roasted corn, smeared with lemon, chilly powder, pepper and salt, yum yum !! Or sitting in my minuscule apartment in Mumbai, sipping  ginger tea and eating a hot vada pav (a street food version of a burger), and listening to the melancholy ghazals of Jagjit Singh!
And today, a steady drizzle and a cool breeze accompanied by the occasional thunder and lightening and a bowl of pipping hot noodle soup, a perfect monsoon evening in Bangalore.
It was the fastest noodle soup I have ever made, with very few ingredients and yet, so satisfying. A definite rainy day recipe!


Soba noodles (buckwheat), you could use rice sticks or glass noodles too.
5-6 florets of broccoli
2 big chilly peppers (less heat)
5-6 shitake mushrooms (dried)
2-3 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tsp sesame seeds
1 tbsp oil (sesame, peanut or olive)
pepper to taste


Boil the noodles according to the instructions on the pack and keep aside. Soak the dried shitake mushrooms in hot water to rehydrate.
In a hot wok, pour the oil and add the sesame seeds. Add the broccoli, peppers and mushrooms (without its water) and stir fry for a few minutes.
Now, add the water from the mushrooms and the soy sauce and pepper. Add a little more water and taste the broth to check for taste (salt is not required because of the soy).
Let it all come to a boil, add the noodles and turn the heat off.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Mangoliscious !!

There is a reason that Mangoes are called the king of fruits! The aroma, the rich sweetness and the lusciousness. Its worth the wait, when the season finally arrives and we are greeted with so many different varieties of mangoes, each with their own unique flavour! Alphonso remains the gold standard at least for our family, to measure the taste, sweetness and flavour of each of the other varieties of mangoes that we  try.
Mangoes are nutritional powerhouses too. Incredibly rich in Vitamin A and flavonoids, mangoes are great for eye health and good skin. Fresh mangoes are also a good source of potassium, Vitamin C, Vitamin E and Vitamin B6. They are great for the body's immunity and resistance against infections and help scavenge the harmful oxygen free radicals.

This recipe is a healthier and vegan version of the famous cheesecake!! I was a big fan of the frozen cheesecake, and for the longest time did not even venture to try (making or eating) a vegan version of it, fearing that it would never match up. But this recipe makes the creamiest and most perfect dream cakes (read vegan cheesecakes).
So, do you want to know the secret? CASHEWS!
Nuts are good for us, but cashews, are real stars, in taste as well as their nutritive value. They have a lower fat content than most other nuts and about 75% of their fat is unsaturated fatty acids, plus about 75% of this unsaturated fatty acid content is oleic acid, which promotes good cardiovascular health, even in diabetics! Also a good source of magnesium, they are great for bone health.

This recipe is a version from the amazing 'my new roots' blog. I made a mango dream cake in honour of the mango season, but feel free to try it with any other fruit.

So, here is the recipe...

Raw Mango Cashew Dream cake
1/2 cup raw almonds (pecan or walnuts will also work)
1/2 cup pitted dates (soaked in 2 tbsp hot water for an hour)
¼ tsp quality sea salt
1 ½ cups raw cashews, soaked overnight
juice of 2 lemons
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup raw coconut oil
1/3 cup raw agave nectar
1 cup chopped mango, preferably Alphonso 

1. In a mixer, process the dates, almonds and salt, to chunky consistency. Line a pie tin with cling foil and press down the date mix like a crust.
2. Warm coconut oil and agave in a small saucepan on low heat until liquid and whisk.

3. In a powerful food processor / blender, place all filling ingredients (except the mango) and blend on high until very smooth and silky.
4. Pour about 2/3 of the mixture out onto the crust and smooth with a spatula. Add the mango to the remaining filling and blend on high until smooth. Pour onto the first layer of filling. Place in freezer until solid.

5. To serve, remove from freezer 30 minutes prior to eating. Run a smooth, sharp knife under hot water and cut into slices. Serve on its own, or with fresh mango.