Healthy Veg Curry Bowl

Curry bowls are quite the rage these days. Open Pinterest or any food websites, and I'm quite sure you will find some of these gorgeous bowls loaded with healthy ingredients staring back at you. When I first read about curry bowls, I went hmphhh and said to myself, "this is how I eat my sambar, rice and veggies in one bowl on most weekdays for lunch".  But smirks and jokes apart,  they are much more than just mixing a dal, rice and veggies in a bowl, even though that also well qualifies to be a 'curry bowl' :D

From what I have understood, a curry bowl comprises a curry - which could be any curry of your choice, made using vegetables or meat or both, a kind of grain to soak up all the curry liquids and a variety of toppings to add interest, colour and texture to your bowl.

Also read: How to make a quinoa bowl
I usually make a quick Thai curry from a ready paste and reconstituted coconut powder, especially because chopping up and then cooking the vegetables and the grains takes some time, and I don't have time to make the curry paste from scratch for a weekday lunch. This is a great way to get your 5 a day share of vegetables. Even if you are using a protein like tofu or chicken, make sure you add a mix of colourful vegetables too, to make it healthier.

For the grains, you could choose from cooked broken wheat (dalia)/ brown rice/ red rice/ couscous/ quinoa or even millets. Most of these grains are best cooked with 1:2 water, so that they remain fluffy and not clumped up. In my experience, brown rice cooks best in pressure cooker. Keep the flame on Sim for 10-12 minutes after one whistle and then switch off, allowing the cooker to cool down. When you open the cooker, the grains will be perfectly cooked. The other grains like dalia, millets and quinoa can be cooked on stove top or rice cooker. Couscous needs no cooking, just soaking in boiling hot water. You can also choose noodles instead of any of the above grains.

The toppings are what make the curry bowl so much more interesting than just a mix of curry and rice. Chopped boiled eggs, toasted peanuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chopped herbs, pickled onions, stir fried greens, sesame seeds, julienned lemongrass, all make wonderfully flavourful toppings.

Recipe for a Healthy Veg Curry Bowl
Makes 1 large bowl
Time taken: Under 30 minutes

Equipment required: Pressure Pan to cook the brown rice

 1/4 - 1/3 cup brown rice (raw)

For curry:
1 tsp oil
1/2 onion, peeled, halved and sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 small eggplant, diced
1/4 cup diced yellow pumpkin
4-5 green beans, julienned
1/4 cup diced zucchini
1/4 cup diced carrots
1 tsp grated fresh turmeric (optional)
1/4-1/2 tsp salt (depending on salt in the curry paste)
1 heaped tablespoon Thai red curry paste
2 heaped tbsp of coconut power + 150 ml lukewarm water (or 150 ml coconut milk)
Water if required, to thin curry

For toppings:
1 cup finely chopped greens (I used Bathua / goosefoot)
1 tsp oil
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1 clove garlic, finely minced
Salt and pepper

2 tbsp julienned spring onion greens
1-2 tbsp roasted peanuts, crushed coarsely

To cook brown rice, rinse in water once, drain and place in a pressure pan with twice the quantity of water. Cover the cooker with its lid and the whistle and keep flame on high. After one whistle, lower flame to Sim and cook for 12 minutes. Turn off the flame and allow to cool and pressure to drop. After opening cooker, fluff up grains with fork. If any extra water is leftover in the cooker, unabsorbed by the rice, using a colander, drain it in a bowl and add this to the curry. 

To prepare curry, in a wide pan, heat 1 tsp oil. Saute the onion and garlic for 1 minute on medium heat.
Add all other vegetables, stir on high flame for 1 minute. Add 1/4 cup water, pinch of salt, cover and cook until nearly tender.
Add the red curry paste and stir well for 30 seconds - 1 min. 
Add the coconut milk and bring to a simmer, adding a little water to thin the curry if too thick.
To prepare topping, add 1 tsp oil in a pan. Add sesame seeds and garlic and stir for few seconds, until sesame seeds start popping. Add finely chopped greens and stir until wilted. Season with a little sprinkle of salt and pepper.

To assemble curry bowl, in a large bowl, serve the rice to one side. Ladle the curry on the other side and some over the rice. 
Top with sautéed greens with sesame seeds, roasted peanuts and spring onion juliennes.
Before eating, stir it all together with a fork and tuck in.

This makes a very hearty and delicious lunch for me on weekdays. In fact almost all the components can be prepped ahead of time, when you are spending time in the kitchen. Come lunch time, you can mix them in a bowl and enjoy it. Even for a lunch at work,  you can carry the grains, curry and toppings in a 3 tiered leakproof Tupperware and mix them in a dish or bowl during lunchtime. 

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Flaxseed Molaga Podi | Spiced Flaxseed Lentil powder

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Flaxseed is a powerhouse of nutrition, one of the highly rated antioxidant rich foods. Its antioxidant nature exerts a preventive effect on cardiac disease and some cancers. It also reduces insulin resistance. 

Lignans are phytonutrients present in plant food and flaxseeds are very rich in lignans. They are a part of the fiber componenet, and besides the good effects of fiber, they are also a potent antioxidant. Flaxseeds are rich in phytoestrogens, which is why regular intake of ground flaxseed provides relief from hot flushes in post-menopausal women. 
The importance of including a good source of omega 3 in your diet cannot be stressed upon enough, whether it is for generating energy or for protecting cardiac health. 

To get the most health benefits from flaxseeds, they must be ingested in the ground form for best absorption. Recommended quantity is 1-2 tablespoons of ground flaxseeds in a day. 2 tbsp of ground flaxseed gives you 130% of daily requirement of omega 3 fatty acids and 15% of the daily required fiber. 

How to include more flaxseeds in your daily diet

  1. Roasted and powdered flaxseed can be added to burgers / patties as a binder. Add it to alu-tikkis for your radga patties. (RECIPE: Veggie Burger]
  2. Powdered flaxseed is a great addition to smoothies and protein shakes (RECIPE: Green Smoothie]
  3. Easily disguised into soups, rasams and sambars
  4. As an egg substitute in cookies, cakes and muffins - 'flax egg' is 1 tbsp flaxseed powder whisked into 2.5-3 tbsp boiling hot water, letting it sit until it turns a bit viscous. Flaxseed meal added to home baked bread reduces the glycemic index of bread, making it much healthier. [RECIPE: Eggless Savoury Muffins | Ragi Ginger Cookies ]
  5. Flaxseeds make a great addition to any podi, which is a staple in many South Indian kitchens. Try and make your own gunpowder (molagapodi) which has so much more flavour than a store bought one.
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Idli & Flaxseed Podi

My grouse with store bought molagapodi is that they grind it too fine. Texture is such a key element in molagapodi, the crunch from the coarsely powdered dals is part of the joy in eating idlis smeared with molagapodi. Also, the rich aromas from freshly roasted dals and toasted seeds is something else, never to be found in a mass produced and packaged podi. My mum, aunt and grandmum typically make one 'Horlicks bottle' measure at a time, so it never loses its flavour.

Amma's molaga podi recipe has been shared in this video on my youtube channel. This is my healthier version of molagapodi / milagapodi made using two dals, red chillies, sesame seeds and flaxseeds. Sesame seeds add a rich deep aroma to the podi. If you are a regular reader of my blog, you will already know that I love sesame seeds in every form :)

Do remember to toast each of the ingredients separately as each takes a different temperature and time to reach optimum aroma and golden brown colour, so putting them all together may not be a great idea.

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This recipe has been developed in association with Phalada Pure and Sure - Organic Flaxseeds.

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Flaxseed Podi (Molagapodi with flaxseed)
Time taken: Under 20 minutes
Makes 3/4 cup

1/4 cup chana dal
1/4 cup tur dal
1/4 cup whole flaxseeds (Phalada Pure and Sure)
1 tsp oil
6 dried red chillies - I use Bedgi / Byadagi
1-2 tbsp sesame seeds
3/4 tsp rock salt

In a heavy bottomed pan, heat 1/2 tsp oil. Roast the chana dal and tur dal on medium flame, constantly stirring, until they turn light brown and aromatic. This will take around 8 minutes. Remove this into a dish to cool.
Dry roast the whole flaxseeds over medium flame for 3-5 minutes, until you begin to hear popping sounds. Remove this and keep aside to cool.
In the same pan, roast the sesame seeds for 1 minute, until you get a toasty aroma and they start popping. Remove this and keep aside to cool.
Heat the remaining 1/2 tsp oil. Break the dried chillies into halves and roast them for 3-4 minutes on low flame until they turn bright red and crisp up. Allow this to cool.

In a mixer jar, first grind the fried red chillies with salt. Add the chana dal, tur dal and grind until coarsely ground.
Add the flaxseeds, sesame seeds and pulse a few times until coarsely powdered. 
Remove into a dish and cool. Fill this into an airtight bottle. 
To mix the podi, add required quantity of gingelly oil (South Indian sesame oil) or for the calorie conscious people, you can mix the podi in dahi (yogurt) and eat with dosas or smear over the idlis.

Pure and Sure

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Recipe for Kanda-Kairi Chutney - Onion and Raw Mango Chutney

What's the best way to jazz up an Indian meal? I'd say "condiments". Chutneys, pickles, podis, kachumber added to a couple of vegetables, dal, rotis and rice can turn your dish into a full fledged Indian thaali. Goodness, my mouth waters even as I type out these words! Sigh, there's no hope for me :-/

Gujarati cuisine is full of such condiments and they do know how to make use of them mangoes, raw or ripe! The Gujarati aamras is just the best in the world (my opinion, of course), but there is also this chutney with raw mangoes, that you can make for more months in a year as raw mangoes are more accessible pretty much round the year. Also, you gotta love a chutney that comes together without much effort or without any cooking on the stove top. 

This kanda kairi chutney, which essentially means onion and raw mango chutney is one such condiment that will make your salivary glands see green as soon as you spot it on your plate. It is a fine balance of sour-salty-spicy, you can add a pinch of sugar if you find that the raw mangoes you are using are too sour. I left out the sugar in this recipe as the mangoes were mildly sweet. Don't be too worried about the raw onions, as the sourness from the mangoes kind of cures it and mellows it down. This recipe is adapted from what a friend shared with me. 

It was meant to be shared in the height of summer, but better late than never and a peek into the regular online grocery shopping sites tells me that they are still available. So HURRY and try it out!

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Recipe for Kanda Kairi Chutney - Onion and Raw Mango Chutney
Serves 4

1/2 cup grated raw mango
1/2 cup grated onion
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp anaardana powder (dried pomegranate powder)
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp roasted cumin powder
1 tbsp oil
1 tsp red chilli powder
pinch of asafoetida

In a medium bowl, mix the grated raw mango, grated onion, salt, sugar, anardaana powder and roasted cumin powder.
In a tempering ladle, heat the oil. Add the chilli powder and asafoetida. Turn off the flame immediately. Pour this over the mixed ingredients in the bowl. Toss well and cover and keep aside for at least 15 minutes.
Serve along with parathas or dal and rice.
Save the leftover chutney in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Use it within 2-3 days.

Weekly Menu Plan 27 July, 2015 - Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Kid Lunchbox

As promised, here is the weekly menu covering breakfast, lunch, dinner and kiddie lunchbox. 

You'll find links to some of the recipes below.
Pin it or save the image to your phone / tablet/ computer, for easy reference or ideas.

Here are links to some of the recipes from the blog: 

Red Rice Poha
Green Smoothie
Methi Paratha
Vegetarian Dhansak
Cucumber Sassive
Cabbage curry
Alu Subzi
Marinated tofu pumpkin rice

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