Monday, April 21, 2014

Sprouts and Pomegranate Salad

Here's one of my favourite recipes for sprouts salad.
Sprouts - 1 cup  (How to make sprouts)
Pomegranates - 1/2 cup
Curd - 1/2 cup
Chaat masala - 1 tsp or to taste
Corriander leaves - 1/2 cup finely chopped
A wedge of lime

Mix all the ingredients together and serve with a wedge of lime. Makes a great one dish meal, especially lunch.

How to Make Sprouts

Making sprouts at home is so easy once you understand how to go about it. I generally use whole moong or peanuts for sprouting. For a list of other seeds you can sprout check out this Wikipedia article.

Sprouts are usually eaten raw. If you want to cook them, they should either be steamed or cooked very quickly. To me eating raw sprouts was an acquired taste. I started eating them because I thought they were good for me. Now I eat them for breakfast 4 days a week because I like eating them. They taste really good in combination with pomegranates and tomatoes or with grated carrots, cabbage and a dash of lemon juice. 

For breakfast I prefer plain sprouts as combinations are too heavy. Sprouts in combination with fruits or vegetables make a nourishing and filling one-dish lunch.

Facts About Sprouts: (Resource Thangam Philip's, Modern Cooking - Volume 1)
1. 100 gms whole moong = 240 gms sprouted moong
2. The vitamin C content of moong increases by 20% after sprouting

  • Whole moong also called mung beans in some countries - 1 cup
It is very important that you buy the cereal, grain or legume to be sprouted from grocery stores and not seed stores.  Seeds meant for sowing are sometimes treated with fungicides.

  • Water to soak the whole moong
  • Patience
1. Wash and soak the whole moong/beans with enough water to cover the moong/beans and then some for about 8-10 hours. As the cereal soaks it absorbs all the water. We don't want the water to dry up.
2. After 8-10 hours, drain the water. Wash the whole moong thoroughly. It's a good idea to use a strainer or a colander for washing and draining the moong.
Collect the water used for washing and soaking the seeds the first time and also the water used for subsequent washing and delight your plants with a nourishing drink. 
3. Now spread it out evenly in a container for sprouting. I use the 'iddli stand', (shown in the picture below) for the process. It came with my Samsung microwave oven. 
If I need the sprouts for breakfast tomorrow, I soak the moong at around 8 in the morning. Then at around 6 p.m., I wash, drain and transfer the soaked moong to the white middle container in the unit above and assemble it as shown below.
4. Then, just before going to bed, I transfer the moong to a strainer (because it drains faster), wash and drain thoroughly and transfer them back to the white part of the iddli stand. Draining is a very crucial step because if there is any excess water left will to fermenting and therefore smelly sprouts. No amount of washing will help you get rid of the smell.

5. The next morning the sprouts are ready.  If you don't plan to eat them immediately, store them in the fridge in a closed container.  Continue to wash and drain every 4 hours or so; because in the absence of moisture, sprouts acquire a bitter taste. The sprouts will continue to grow.

Note: It takes anywhere between 12 hours to 4 days to make sprouts. The duration depends on where you live.  The hotter your climate, the quicker the sprouting.

Alternate Equipment for Sprout Making:
You don't need any expensive apparatus to make sprouts. Don't let anyone convince you otherwise. If you don't have the microwave iddle stand, don't worry, the purpose of using the white middle portion of the unit is to drain all the water, and the lid with vents provide a green-house set up. Improvise using things that would produce the same results. You can for instance, use the perforated plate (shown below) that comes with 'Rice Cookers' in a flat bottomed utensil and cover it with a colander. The plate provides the drainage and the colander a vented cover.

Resources and Further Reading: It's always good to know more about what goes into your mouth
  1. Growing Edible Sprouts at Home
  2. Growing Seed Sprouts at Home
  3. Nutritional Information
  4. Anti-sprouts - is not really anti-sprouts.  The author just explains why it's no big deal.
  5. Sprout People

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Potato Based Tomato Soup

Tomato - 2 medium sized, quartered
potato - 1 large, peeled and cubed
carrot - 3 medium sized cut into bite size pieces
onion - 1 large, chopped into large pieces (finely chop 1/4 of the onion for frying in butter)
garlic - 2 flakes
ginger - 1/2 inch piece
cloves - 1
pepper - 1/2 tbsp
cornflour - 2 tsp
corriander leaves - 1 tbsp finely chopped
Butter - 1 tsp

1. Pressure cook the onions carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, ginger, garlic and cloves  along with 2 cups of water for 4-5 whistles. Don't forget to retain 1/4 of the onion for frying in butter.

2. Put the vegetables minus the stock (water used to cook the vegetables) in a blender and blend to a fine paste. Retain the stock.

3. Mix cornflour in 1 cup of water and keep aside.

Here is the blended vegetable paste.

3. Wash the cooker and dry the inside with a clean towel. We are done with the basic preparations. Let's start cooking the soup.  When the cooker is warm enough but not too hot, add the butter. We don't want the butter turning brown. Added the finely chopped 1/4 onion we retained. Saute till the onions are transparent or if you prefer, until they turn a crisp and brown. Take care not to burn it.

4. Add the stock.  Note that I am not adding the cornflour mixture first. Some recipes fry the cornflour first and then add the stock while continuously stirring.  But I prefer to stir in the cornflour mixture after I add the stock; chiefly because, I invariably get a call or someone is always at the door at this crucial step and I end up with lumpy soup. Hence the improvisation.

5.Okay, now it's quite a while since I mixed the cornflour in water.  This means the cornflour has settled at the bottom. So, it has to be stirred thoroughly adding to the stock in the cooker. Keep stirring to prevent lumps just until the cornflour mixture has blended with the stock. Simmer.

6. Now add the blended vegetables, salt and 1-2 cups of water (depends on what consistency you want). Mix well. Return the flame to high and bring the soup to a boil. Add chopped corriander and pounded pepper. (Mostly I prefer to pressure cook the pepper along with the vegetables. But I wanted to show off my new pestle.)

7. The soup is now ready. This serves 4-5 middle-aged adults. I say middle - aged adults because this is bird feed to young adults. This is really good with toast or plain wheat or whole grain bread. If you want to load it with artery cloggers, by all means add generous amounts of grated cheese or fresh cream. 

Note:- The potatoes are starchy enough to provide the right texture to the soup. So, I think we can do away with the cornflour mixture.