TOFU was discovered about 2,000years ago by a Chinese cook who accidently curdled soy milk when he added ‘nigari seaweed’.
It contains all eight essential amino acids and lots of protein  It is also an excellent source of iron and calcium and minerals  ——- manganese, selenium and phosphorous.
The soy protein in tofu may be beneficial for heart health, menopause, and is also known to fight breast cancer.  Like cheese, there is more than one variation available of tofu.  There is ‘silken tofu’, extra soft, firm, medium and extra firm too.  Also, owing to its generally neutral taste, tofu is culinary chameleon, lending itself to an infinite number of food preparations ——- it can be pickled, fermented, stir-fried or even used in miso soup.
Tofu is packed with water, then it is packed in water.  We need to get that water out and replace it with flavour.  Not pressing the water out of the tofu is one of the biggest mistakes you can make.  Open the package and drain the water.
In Japan, a common lunch in the summer months is HIYAYAKKO  —— silken or firm Asian tofu served with freshly-grated ginger, green onions with soy sauce.  In winter, tofu is frequently eaten as YUDOFU, which is simmered in a clay pot with some vegetables.
In China, tofu is traditionally used as an offering when visiting the graves of deceased relatives.  It is claimed that since the spirits (or ghosts) have long lost their chins and jaws, only tofu is soft enough for them to eat.
Tofu soaks up all the flavours you cook it with.  You can quickly toss it with a sauce just before cooking, or let it soak up all the flavours of the dish you are using it in.
One of the founding fathers of the US, Benjamin Franklin, was the first American to mention tofu in a letter dated January 11, 1770.
Not much is known about the art of pairing tofu with wine, probably because of its versatility.  When soft and silky, it pairs well with light white wines, while the firmer versions cooked with spicy ingredients call for more robust whites or reds.
Silken tofu is very creamy, almost like custard.  It is used to make delicious desserts  ———- from chocolate pudding and pumpkin pie to cheesecake.  —————–

Meals for the month of May

The best summer foods are :
GAZPACHO(1) GAZPACHO —-  Why would you want to break into a sweat cooking a hot soup ?  Cold soups are your perfect option.  Among them, the GAZPACHO comes packed with healthy ingredients like tomatoes, bell peppers and cucumber.  It is barely 88 calories per cup with zero cholesterol.
(2) WATERMELON —- Enjoying a slice of WATERMELON on a scorching day is a delicious way to rehydrate yourself.  It’s a fruit that’s over 90% water and scientists say it contains cancer-battling lycopene in more doses than raw tomatoes.  At barely 44 calories a cup, it’s the fruit to gorge on in May.
Grilled chicken kebab(3) GRILLED CHICKEN KEBAB —- CHICKEN KEBABS — plain, not pasted in creamy white marinade — give you the protein kick you need minus the calories.  Bell peppers give you a dose of vitamin C, and they taste deliciously sweet once off the grill.  If you must have a creamy marinade, use plain or hung curd.
(4) CORN —- If eaten roasted or steamed minus butter or salt, CORN( BUTTHA) is one of the best high-protein snack.  You can even add some grains to a salad.  Among its health benefits are diabetes control and lowering hypertension.
sauteed shrimp(5) GRILLED or SAUTEED SHRIMP —- This one makes a good bar snack or a light lunch.  SHRIMPS are high in protein, energise you and provide your 24% of your daily recommended iron intake.  Just ensure they are grilled (have it minus a sauce) or sautéed in light oil.
(6) ZUCCHINI —- Have it the way you please, because this is the perfect veggie to have  to have when temperatures are soaring. It has barely 20 calories per cup, is a fat and cholesterol free and gives you 35% of your daily-recommended vitamin C intake.  Enjoy it raw or dice and toss it in a salad.
Now for the worst summer foods :
(1) MAC & POTATO SALAD —- There’s nothing more comforting than potato and pasta and a MAC & POTATO SALAD seems the perfect lunch pick, but the fattening mayonnaise plays spoiler.  You’ll be piling on 300 calories with a single serving.  In case you can request the chef to use low-fat mayo or replace it with a good-for-the-heart dressing of olive oil, go ahead.
(2) RIBS —- We agree they are the most delicious, but its best if RIBS stay out of your summer menu.  A quarter pound of pork ribs totals 288 calories and is loaded with saturated fat.  Add barbeque sauce, and it gets worse if you are making them at home, skip the sauce.  Instead, use powdered mustard, garlic and chilly powder.


(4) ONION RINGS —- It seems like a harmless snack, but the ONIONS are dipped in maida and beaten eggs before they are liberally salted.  If out, avoid altogether, but if you are stirring up a crunchy snack to go with drinks at home, make a dry batter of whole wheat flour, grated parmesan , beaten egg whites and breadcrumbs.
(5) ICE CREAM SANDWICH —- It is tough staying away from sweetened, frozen milk in the summer, but ICE CREAM SANDWICHED between cookies add almost 500 calories to your daily calculation.  That’s because it earns 60% of its flavour from saturated fat.  Switch ice cream for low-calorie sorbets.  .

Mouthwatering Malaysia


Until the 15th century, the cornerstone of Malay flavour was a paste made with mainly roots —— lemon grass, small red shallots, garlic, fresh turmeric and galangal.  Spices and chillies were added later when the spice trade began. —— There is a main street food area called Jalan Alor.  Here the entire neighbourhood is dotted with stalls, selling everything from fish head curry to sambal and satay.  Malays can easily tuck into up to six meals a day.

Beef Rendang

Normally, the day starts with breakfast, then a mid-morning snack, followed by lunch.  A light bowl of noodles fills any gaps between 4pm and 5pm, and dinner is the main meal of the day.  To cater to this non-stop nosh, the hawker culture works around the clock to feed the hungry with platefuls of delicacies like satay, laksa, redang and roti jala.

Malaysian cuisine

Rendang made with tempeh (soya bean cake) is quite delicious.  Curries, mainly made with coconut milk, have their roots in Indian cuisine.  Malay culture is a smorgasbord of modern Indian, Thai, Arab and Chinese influences and has been strongly influenced by people of neighbouring lands, including the  Siamese, Javanese, Sumatran and Indians.  The influence of Hinduism was significant and the Malay were primarily Hindus before converting to Islam in the 15th century,  For 2,000 years, the traffic of traders between the Malayan Archipelago and India resulted in frequent inter-marriages, especially from Tamil Nadu and Gujarat.


A wave of Indian and Chinese immigration occurred again 200 years ago when the country needed labour.  A Malaysian meal is influenced by all these communities and usually consists of a curry, fried, grilled or steamed fish in a banana leaf, sambal, ulam and a dessert made with coconut, jiggery and rice powder.
laksa5For a bird’s eye view of Malaysian food it’s best to go from one ethnic plate to another.  For a travelling foodie, Ramadan is the best time to experience Indian Muslim style food  ——– a culinary assimilation of Indian and Malay cooking styles at Mamak stalls. ” Malay-Muslim” dishes are basically a range of curries, the most prominent one being the Malaysian chicken curry.  Every street stall has a secret recipe for curry.  While the curries have a distinct Indian element, they are prepared using a varied spice mix called “rempah” ——- a complex paste of spices and aromatics roasted and cooked together forming the base even as coconut milk adds body.
Another coconut infused dish is the noodle soup called Laksa.  This is a Nonya dish (Nonyas are a community of Malay and Chinese descent where Malay men mostly took Chinese wives)  Their cuisine is popularly known as “Straits Chinese” and is represented by popular dishes such as Char Kuey Teow (stir-fried noodles with bean sprouts, prawns, eggs — duck or chicken, chives and thin slices of preserved Chinese sausages and the ubiquitous Hainanese chicken rice of poached chicken in a bland but fragrant broth.  Of course, trust the Malays to re-jig the recipe, so go easy on the dipping sauce laced with chillies, garlic and ginger, which gives it a spicy kick that will make your tongue twist and taste buds salivate.
——— Fareeda Kanga

Save your teeth

Woman teeth

Increasing consumption of junk food has led to several dental problems in children with early tooth decay and cavities.  Among 100 patients that a dentist sees every month, 30 to 40 of them are below 25 years old.  Tis increasing number reflects the change in eating habits that is having a bad impact on oral health.
Dr. Satyendra Kumar, chief dentist at Yashoda Hospitals said, ” The problem with junk food is that it is very sticky and gets stuck in the teeth.  Within four hours, an acid is released which begins to harm the teeth.  This acid is the major cause of harm to the teeth.  The food is so sticky that it can’t be removed even with toothpicks.”  With night brushing and floss not being  a regular habit, teeth tend to develop cavities  The major problem is most children fail to pay attention to toothache.  It is only when the pain is unbearable, do they approach dentists.  By that time it is too late.  Doctor Kumar explained, “Majority of the youngsters walk in too late.  Their teeth are so badly damaged that one has to opt for root canal treatment.”
According to Dr. Venkatesh, senior dentist with Apollo Hospitals, said, “The teeth  of children are damaged at a very young age.  They tend to develop cavities fast.  The problem is that the base of the permanent teeth is not very strong.  During their growing years, children need more calcium-rich foods like milk.  Instead, the are eating highly processed foods, which makes their teeth under-calcified by the time they are 15 to 17 years of age.  Bad dental health affects their overall oral health where issues of bad breath, gingivitis, bleeding gums are very high.”  Therefore, I is important to ensure that parents are educated to give their children the right nutritional foods.
Doctor M. Prathyusha, consultant dental and cosmetic surgeon says, “The problem in India is that night brushing is not a daily practice.  It has been found that 80% of the people who visit dental clinics do not brush at night.  It is very important for parents to brush so that the same habits will be followed by their children.  Brush not only outside, but also internally so that the food stuck in the gumas is removed.”
Food Good For The Teeth 
**Apples are nature’s toothbrush, because they stimulate the gums, increase saliva flow and reduce the build-up of cavity-causing plaque.  They are loaded with 15 vitamins and over 10 minerals that the body needs.
food good for teeth** Celery and Carrots protect the teeth in two ways.  Extra chewing produces more saliva  that neutralises the acid produced by bacteria.  Also, chewing naturally abrasive foods massages the gums and cleans between the teeth.
** Cheese is derived from milk and is a great source of calcium, which is required for development of bones and teeth.  Eating cheese results in a coating of calcium on teeth that protects against cavities.  As cheese has lots of fat, it has to be eaten in moderation.
** Green tea contains anti-oxidants called catechins that kill the bacteria in your mouth.
** Kiwi and strawberries are great sources of Vitamin C.
** Drinking sufficient water keeps your gums hydrated, which is the best way to stimulate saliva that is the greatest defence against bacteria that causes plaque and cavities.  ** Milk and milk products protect teeth against gum diseases and keeps the jawbone strong and healthy.
** Lean protein like eggs and beef are rich in phosphorous, which help maintain strong tooth enamel.
———— Kaniza Garari.

The egg-o trip

Here are a few eggs-cellent recipes that are not just delicious but also easy to replicate at home.

(1) AKOORI ON TOAST : (Akoori is masala scrambled eggs, Parsi style)

akuri on toastIngredients : 1 green chilli (de-seeded and chopped), 1/2tsp garlic (finely grated), 1/2tsp cumin seed, 1/2tsp dhansak powder, 1/2tsp red chilli powder, salt to taste, handful of coriander (chopped).
Method : In a bowl, beat eggs with some cream and a little salt.  Set aside.  Heat a little butter in a frying pan, add onions and fry until almost golden brown.  Then, add the garlic, cumin seeds and green chilli and fry to release the aromas.  To this mixture, add turmeric powder, dhansak powder and red chilli powder.  Cook for one more minute.  Now pour in the egg mixture.  Mix well and stir gently on medium heat.  Cook till the dish reaches a nice creamy consistency.  Sprinkle it with fresh coriander leaves and mix gently.  Toast some bread and butter generously.  Serve the eggs on the buttered toast.


Indian scotch egg curryIngredients : 3 hard-boiled eggs.  (For the mince)  500gms minced mutton, 1 egg for frying, 1 small onion (chopped), 4-5 green chillies (chopped), 1tsp gram (ground), 1tsp sesame seeds (khus khus) ground, 1tbsp ginger-garlic paste, 1tbsp garam masala, 1tsp red chilli powder, 1/2 cup oil, salt to taste, small bunch of coriander (chopped).  (For the gravy) 4 onions (finely sliced), 4tbsp ginger-garlic paste, 1/2 cup plain yoghurt, 2tsp red chilli powder, 1/2tsp turmeric powder, 4tbsp coriander powder, 1tbsp garam masala, 1/2tsp mace (javitri) powder, 1/2tsp nutmeg (jaiphal) powder, 1 cup oil, salt to taste.
Method : Mix together all the ingredients of the mince.  Divide this mixture into 3 equal parts.  Coat the three boiled eggs with the mince mixture, giving it an oval shape.  In a  bowl, beat the raw egg and dip the  mince-coated eggs into it  Heat the oil in a pan and deep-fry the eggs.  Take them out of the oil and then deep freeze the eggs for 15mins.  Then with a sharp knife, slit the eggs into two halves and keep aside.  Heat the oil and fry the onions in it till they turn golden-brown.  Cool the onions and then grind them.  In the oil, add ginger-garlic paste, red chilli powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder and salt.  Cook until the raw smell fades away.  Add plain yoghurt, nutmeg powder and mace powder.  Cook till the gravy thickens.  Add the eggs and cook on slow flame for five minutes.  Garnish with tomato sauce and green chillies and serve warm.


IndianStyleLambChops_thumb7Ingredients : (For the ribs) 1kg mutton ribs,  2 eggs, 1 cup flour, 1tbsp plain yoghurt, 250ml whole milk, 1tbsp lemon juice, salt to taste, oil for frying, 1/2 litre water.  (For the potli) 1/4tsp baking powder, 1-inch ginger (sliced), 2-inch cinnamon stick, 1tbsp aniseeds (powdered).
Method : Wash the mutton ribs and dry them well. Marinate the ribs in salt and lemon juice for half an hour.  Take ginger, cinnamon and aniseeds in a clean white cloth.  Tie the cloth and make a potli (small bundle).  In a pot. heat milk and half a litre of water.  Then add the meat and put the potli in. Cook till the mutton is tender.  drain.  Squeeze the spice bundle to extract maximum flavour and discard.  Reserve the stock.  In a bowl, sieve the flour, baking powder and salt together.  Add the yoghurt and pour enough stock to make a batter of thick consistency.  In another bowl, beat the eggs and keep aside  For frying, heat oil in a pan.  Dip the mutton pieces first in the batter, then in the beaten eggs.  Deep fry until golden-brown.  Serve hot.


626-91_tipsy_pudding_300Ingredients : 250 gms sponge cake, 4tsp rum or sherry, 1 cup lime juice, 1 cup fruit juice, 50 gms raisins, 50 gms cashew nuts (chopped),, 50 gms walnuts (chopped) .  (For the custard) 5 egg yolks, 2 cups milk, 1/4tsp oil, 4tsp powdered sugar, 1tsp vanilla essence.
Method :  Slice the sponge cake into 2 layers.  Place the 1st layer on the serving dish, ensuring it fits the dish well.  Mix half the rum/sherry, lime juice and fruit juice.  Sprinkle the remaining onto the sponge layer, such that the cake soaks the liquids well.  Mix half the raisins and walnuts and spread over the sponge. Repeat the process while adding the 2nd layer to the sponge cake.  Ina pan, beat the egg yolks and sugar and mix well.   Now add the milk and mix well.  In a large pan boil water.  Place the egg mixture over the pan and stir gently and continuously.  Whisk until the custard is thickened.  Do not boil else it will curdle.  Now mix in vanilla essence and keep whisking until cool.  Pour the custard over the sponge cake and decorate with fruits and nuts.
——— Kunal Vijayakar. 

Anglo-Indian cuisine

Among the many influences, left behind by the British Raj on its former colony —– India —– one of the most endearing one perhaps is the tradition of Anglo Indian Cuisine.
Spices, ingredients and their style of cooking were seamlessly married with the very ‘propah’ British pies, roasts and puddings to CREATE A WHOLE NEW VISTA..  With dishes like Jalfrezi, Chingree Samosa and Railway Pudding, a whole new cuisine and culture emerged with the Anglo Indian community.  It was curious yet wholly inspiring —– a mix of Brit and Indian cuisine together.  Perhaps, more popular in parts of India that had British settlements namely Bengaluru, Kolkota and Mumbai, where Anglo Indian communities live, the cuisine has core spices that lend the dishes an unusual flavour that set it apart from typically Indian.  And the Anglo Indian cuisine stand apart.
Some of the regularly used meats were chicken, beef, lamb and mutton.  And while they were not big on vegetables, the two dishes that featured in most households were daal and cabbage.  Coconut rice, breads and a varieties of pulaos acted as accompaniments.  Cumin, red chillies, turmeric, cloves, cinnamon and ingredients such as coconut, almonds and yogurt added a whole new dimension too.  Thus, soups tempered with spices, roasts marinated with whole spices and traditional dishes served with sides like coconut rice have become a legacy.  Each family has its own recipes that have stood the test of time and have been passed down generations with utmost pride.
Anglo Indian Cuisine takes tenets from Indian Cuisine and adds the very ‘propah’ touch to it.  Here are some ‘classics’ with a swirl of modernity that can be tried out.
(1) CHINGREE SAMOSA :  Easy to prepare and serve up, samosas were a common tea time snack among the Anglo Indian community members.  The typical Anglo Indian samosa filling was a simple prawn and onion mixture.  Here the traditional filling has been replaced with a spicier Prawn Balchao, a famous Goan prawn pickle, and then stuffing it into a ‘puff pastry’ instead of the ‘short crust pastry’.  
Chingree samosa
Ingredients : 1.5 kg. prawns (shelled, deveined and cut into 1/4 inch cubes), 6 medium onions ( sliced), 3 red tomatoes (deseeded) and cut into juliennes 120ml coconut vinegar, 1tsp ginger-garlic paste, 3tbsp red masala, 1tbsp ghee. 
Method :  Fry onions in ghee till golden brown.  Remove half and drain on a paper towel.  Add ginger-garlic paste and cook for a minute.  Add masala and cook for a minute.  Add tomatoes and cook till the remains of the masala are cooked.  Add stock or water, if required.  Once the masala is cooked, add the prawns and cook for another minute.  Finish with coconut vinegar and the balance fried onions. Season mixture and allow to cool.  Roll out the ‘puff pastry’ to 1mm thickness. Use 50 grams prawn mix and mould into desired shape.  Brush samosas with egg wash and bake at 180 degrees Celsius for 20 minutes or till golden brown.  Serve with sweet and sour mango chutney.
(2) JALFREZI :  Jalfrezi was a traditional Anglo Indian dish made re-using the previous night’s left-over meats.  This was mixed with a bunch of vegetables and served the following day as a side dish to accompany a curry or as a main dish with rice and mango chutney.  The dish was fondly referred to as YMCA (Yesterday’s Meat Cooked Again).  Here is a twist to the traditional recipe —— fresh tenderloin is used instead of leftover meat —— which results in something just as delicious. 
Ingredients :  150 grams tenderloin, 100 grams onions, 100 grams baby potatoes (boiled and halved), 2 green chillies (slit into 4 inches lengthwise), 1/2tbsp ghee, 2tsp curry powder, 1tsp chilly paste, salt and pepper to taste. 
Method : Cut the tenderloin into 1/2 inch slices and marinate in the chilly paste for 3 to 4 hours.  In a cast iron pan or wok, sear one side of the meat, remove and keep aside.  Add ghee and onions and cook till onions are translucent.  Add potatoes, green chilly and curry powder.  Add half cup stock or water and cook for a minute.  Add seared beef and stir with the curry.  Finish with a squeeze of fresh lemon and freshly chopped coriander.  Serve hot with paratha or rice.
(3) RAILWAY PUDDING :  After the French, Portuguese and Spanish invaders, the British were the last to colonise India.  They brought a variety of delectable ideas and influences during their colonial rule, and one highlight was the different kinds of puddings —– plum, bread, vanilla, Yorkshire, Railway pudding etc.  During the British Raj, the main mode of transportation was the railways.  In order to cater to the passengers in the dining area of a train(hence the name Railway Pudding), a version of pudding was created.  Chef Girish Nayak, pastry chef, took this as an inspiration and created a quirky version.  We have layered the sponge cake with fresh home-made strawberry jam and vanilla cream and topped it with fresh chopped strawberries.  When you slice the cake, the layers of strawberry jam between the vanilla sponge cake reminds one of ‘train tracks’. 
Railway Pudding
Ingredients :  250 grams Vanilla sponge cake, 70 gram cream (whipped and chilled), 200 gram home-made strawberry jam. 
Method :  Cut the vanilla sponge cake into 4 layers.  Apply 100 grams strawberry jam to the bottom layer.  Sandwich this with the second layer of sponge cake and cover the second layer of sponge cake with whipped cream.  Add a third layer of cake, apply remaining strawberry jam.  Put the last layer of cake on top of it.  Wrap the cake and freeze.  Before serving, bring the cake to room temperature and slice neatly.  Top with chopped fresh strawberries.
—— Chef Varun Pereira (Monkey Bar, Bengaluru)

Top vegetarian sources of iron

IRON is a very important mineral which is required to transport oxygen to the cells that keeps the body well-nourished and healthy.  Without Iron, your body may not be able to produce enough haemoglobin, a substance contained in the red blood cells that helps in the transportation of oxygen to various tissues in our body.  An iron-deficiency causes anaemia, if left untreated, may cause the cells to choke due to lack of oxygen. The same haemoglobin molecule also carries back the waste products from the micro-tissues to the lungs for removal.
There are 2 basic forms of dietary iron —– heme and nonheme.  Heme Iron comes from animal products, basically anything that originally contains haemoglobin.  Nonheme Iron is derived from plants.  Most vegetarians and vegans may worry about getting enough iron in their diet, as it is better absorbed from meat sources like poultry and fish.  But, iron from plants and vegetables IS HEALTHIER. 
Here are some top vegetarian sources of Iron :
Spinach_2337460b(1) SPINACH :  It is one of the most convenient vegetarian sources of Iron, as it can be digested easily.  Right from infants who can be fed with spinach soup, to the elderly who may have problems with chewing and digestion —— it’s great for people of all ages.  To increase its nutritional value, one can also add a few drops of lemon juice.  A combination of Vitamin C and iron is absorbed better and more easily by our body. 
lotus-root(2) LOTUS STEM :  (Kamal Kakdi) —— The lotus stem, we see so frequently in markets, is a very rich source of iron.  Lotus stem is a staple for many vegetarians in some states like Kashmir.  During winters, it helps your body to build up the blood count.  It can be cooked in several forms ——– as a vegetable cooked in curd, or as died chips or simply stir-fried with some masalas. 
jaggery_small(3) JAGGERY (gud) : Jaggery is a winter favourite for many of us.  It is also a very good source of haemoglobin.  Jaggery, to be most effective, should be consumed with peanuts.  This combination is far more powerful than jaggery alone. 
dandelion(4) DANDELION : This is one of the most powerful remedies for the treatment of anaemia.  Dandelion can be made into a concoction or the essential tincture  of Dandelion can be purchased from health stores.  Dandelion is very rich in several components, like B-12 vitamins, folic, iron and carotene. 
beetroot-cut-open1(5) BEETROOT :  This is another great source of iron for the body.  It can be juiced along with carrots and apples to boost the haemoglobin content.  Belonging to the same family as spinach, it is rich in iron, calcium, Vitamin-A and folic acid. 
Spirulina-Powder__64806_zoom(6) SPIRULINA :  It is a plant that is found in the sea and certain water-bodies.  It has several minerals, beneficial to the human body.  One of the minerals helps the body in making better amounts of haemoglobin.  Spirulina is available as tablets or in powder-form.  Spirulina has become popular the world over.
———– Dr. Shikha Sharma.