Aug 26, 2010

Bee Pollen - Product Information

I picked up a bottle of this at my farmer's market this week - have any of you had this before?

Bee Pollen - the sheet of paper that came along with this says that its 55% protein - a good protein intake for vegetarians. I googled and found a few facts on this - many sites claim that this is a nutritionally superior food and a great natural product. The lady who sold this claimed that she has a tsp of this every morning and it gives her the energy to get through the day.

People with seasonal allergies swear by this - and say that it has helped them have a sneeze free spring many times! Also this is highly recommended for anemic kids and supposedly improves the immune system to a great extent.

This can be added to smoothies or oatmeal or cereals or just had as is with a spoon of honey. Websites mention that when these are soaked overnight in a little orange juice or water - it improves nutrition assimilation by 80%. 

These are picked from the bees legs while then enter the hives - the bees gather these from the base of the flowers -so a good indicator of a good quality of pollen is multicolored grains, which means the bees have got the pollen from a variety of flowers and plants.

I just bit into a couple of pieces - tastes good by itself - a little sweet in fact.

Here are a few pictures that provide the details - all courtesy of my farmer's market Lady who sells these - she is I think also the owner of Temecula Valley Honey co.  On a side note - their farm has the best oranges ever - super juicy and not a seed in sight!

This costs $11 for a 7.5 oz bottle. Or 2 for $20. 


 This sheet provides information on the composition of the bee pollen. 


And this is the suggested ways to eat this - 


Have any of you had this before? If so, let me know if you see a difference or what this has done for you.

There is a ton of information online on this if you're interested. Spend some time reading around to see if this will work for you. There are of course some conflicting information too. One site says that this is not good for diabetics as this is also sweet and can bring the sugar level up. On other side claims that ample research was done on diabetics and this has shown to drastically bring down the sugar levels and improve insulin resistance. So - I don't know the truth on that!

But as an overall product, I'd like to give it a try and see if it makes a difference on me. 

Enjoy. Peace out!

Aug 23, 2010

Veggie Spring Rolls - Indian Restaurant Style

Raise your hands if you go sit in an Indian chinese restaurant and order a plate of veggie spring rolls even before you look at the rest of the menu. Can you see both my hands are up? I had to get them down to type. But, yes - I always order these - my favorite places to eat these are in Golden Dragon Chinese restautrant in Salem and Rangis in Chennai. Love Love those.

The thing about these in the US is that anyone and everyone who make these conveniently use the spring roll wrappers available in the market. Restaurants included. Not that I'm complaining but its been such a long time since I had these spring rolls golden dragon style. Finally I figured out how they make it. The main difference between these and the wonton wrapper rolls style is that these are softer on the outside and not as crispy as the wontons. You bite into the wonton wrapper rolls and you are guaranteed that a couple of crumbs would fall down. But, these..oh baby..these give you a complete bite - eat them hot and you can't resist a hmmm..or a yummm..or a wowwww...guaranteed!

Now, would I make this every time I make spring rolls? Probably not. Because they are a little time consuming and also because the only way to make these is to deep fry them. The wrappers however, are quick to make and can also be baked to make a healthier version. But, would I make this once in a few blue moons - oh yes. Bet on it.

These kind of rolls can be made in two ways - one is this below and the other method is to make a dough with all purpose flour and then to roll them out in circles and then fill and fry. I'll try the other method too sometime and blog about it. But for now, this is the chosen one. This recipe is conceptually adapted from the Indian Food Forever site here.

Let's start with making the filling. Cut these 4 veggies into thin long strips - Onions, Bell Peppers, Cabbage and Carrots. You can add long cut strips of green beans, broccoli, mushrooms or other veggies that would taste good in a spring roll. You could also add sprouts if you'd like. These are all hand cut here below. To cut carrots into long shreds like this - first cut them diagonally into long slices or discs and then cut each slice into really thin strips.

Start with sauteing the onions, then add bell pepper and then the other veggies. Sprinkle salt to taste. Add 1 tsp of soy sauce for some flavor. And then its up to you if you want to add more seasonings. I kept it simple and it was perfect.

Cook for a few mins until its semi done and then remove and place in a separate bowl and let it cool down.

Now for the wrappers. Take 1 cup of all purpose flour in a mixing bowl.

And then add 1/4 cup of Corn flour to the bowl.

Then, add about 1-2 tbsp of rice flour along with the other - this helps in getting a crispier outside.

Now, you'll need to add one egg. If you don't eat eggs, skip this part and add some baking soda maybe to help it rise a little.

Beat the egg well.

Add it to the flour. Also, sprinkle salt to taste.

Mix well thoroughly making sure there are no lumps

The batter needs to be a pouring consistency like this - not too thin and not too thick.

Now, in a pan pour a ladle of the batter in the center and quickly lift up the pan and twirl it around so that the batter spreads evenly into a circle.

Let it cook for a min - until you start seeing these small holes. Flip over and cook for a min. Make sure you don't crisp them up too much - they should still be soft to touch like a pancake. If you make it crisp - it would just break while trying to roll them up. And then don't tell me that I didn't tell you. Hehe..

Stack em up.

The stack does deserve its own profile pictures. Please pardon our love for each other.

Now, let's get to making the rolls.

Pick a spoonful of the filling and place it in the center.

Gently start rolling from one side. These could tear easily - so go gentle on them.

Fold over one side on top of the rolled edge. And then fold over the other side too and make a pocket.

In order to seal the roll, add a paste of flour and water mixture to the edges.

And then seal shut. Now, these are ready to be fried. Make a few of these before you start frying.

Fry one or two at a time. Fry until they turn golden.

Like these. Don't you want to say a Go on say it.

Serve hot with a side of hot'n sweet sauce or ketchup. Or just eat them like that. Who cares what's on the side?

They did bring back memories of all my days of chowing these down back in India. 

Sorry I could not get more pictures - served these as appetizers for my guests and these were the only quick pictures I could click.

Enjoy. Peace Out!

Aug 19, 2010

Thattai - Crispy Rice flour fritters

My dear friend Livyat - we know each other from way back in college, had sent me a message on Facebook and here's what she said - "Chef Anu : all hail ur blog!! absolutely love it... plllleeeasseee put up some recipes of snacks - you know the muruku, sev variety.. i'm sure you have a treasure trove of those back @ home :).."

Chuckle.Chuckle...Hail back at you Liv! I'm no chef..but I'm indeed a lover of all these wonderful snacks. I know this is not murukku or sev but close. I'm sure you've had these many times. These are one of my favorite snacks too and an easy breezy thing to make - Thattai...meaning something that is flattened out. Hope you like these. Try it out when you can and let me know how it turned out for you.

This does not require too many things or special instruments to make - just a few ingredients, a plastic sheet and you're on your way to crispy tasty land.

Take about 4 cups of Rice flour. This makes about almost 50 of these little guys. You can halve the quantity for a smaller yield.

On the side, soak about 1 tbsp of channa daal and 1 tbsp of toor daal in hot water for about 30 mins or until they are a little tender and easy to break.

In a small pan, take about 2 1/2 tbsp of urad daal. This is correct quantity for 4 cups of rice flour.

Dry roast the urad dall till they turn golden and it smells like urad heaven!

Once they turn golden, move it to a mixer to be ground.

And grind it up until you get a fine and soft fresh powder.

Now, add this to the rice flour. Add salt to taste for the whole flour mix. About 2-3 tsps.

Next, pour about 1/3 cup of melted butter to the flour mixture.

Using fingertips, gently mix up the butter and flour. Yes..wash your hands before you do this. This recipe is a hands on recipe - literally. There's going to be more hands on work further keep em clean! No gardening work allowed in between!

Then, add the soaked daals to the flour.

Mix  up everything well. This is still a dry mixture except for the butter. Take a little of the flour - you could roughly divide the whole thing into 3-4 batches.

Add water a little at a time to one portion of the flour mix and knead gently with fingertips. Cover the rest and set aside so that it does not get dried up.

Knead until you get a dough consistency like this.

Now, make small balls out of the dough - roughly the size of small lemons or whatever you feel is almost this size!

To make the thattais, oil a ziploc bag or a plastic sheet.

Take one ball at a time and press it around to make it flat with your fingertips. Make it as thin as  you can without breaking it apart. You can also use your palm to press these if you don't like the little finger impressions.

Here are a few ready to be dunk in hot oil.

Fry in hot oil - make sure the oil is not too hot. Fry in medium heat until they turn golden.

Like this. They're done - how easy was that! Drain off the excess oil on a paper towel.

All you have to do now is bite into this crunchiness. Aaaah...nice..but since we always like to make things better, here's a better idea.

Bite into a few of these and sip along a hot cup of coffee.

And not just coffee - how about a gorgeous cup of South Indian filter coffee. Aaah...indeed!!

Enjoy. Peace Out!